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Full text of "The brass bottle"

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HARVARD 
COLLEGE 
LI B RARY 



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8 



F. W. SWINDELL. 



yv/v^^-KXXA-«-^ " ) I 7 



I. 



THE BRASS BOTTLE 



By F. ANSTEY. 

The BrAM Bottle. Illustrated, zsroo. 
Cloth. 

Love ftnong the Llone. intutnted. 

xamo. Cloth, $i.oo. 
Vice Vena; or, A Lesson to Fathers. 

xamo. Cloth, $z.a5: paper, 50 cents. 

Baboo Hurry Bnnssho Jsbberjce. B. A. 

xamo. lUustiated. Qoth, $1.50. 
The Statement of Stella Maberly. 

z6mo. Cloth, $x.a5. 

The Giant's Robe. lUuatnted. xamo. 

Cloth, $x.a5; papex, 50 cents. 
The Black Poodle, and Other Stories. 

xamo. inustimted. Paper, 50 cents. 
Tonrmalin's Time Cheques. 

Boards, 50 cents. 
The Tinted Venus, xamo. 

P*P^f 50 cents. 
Paleface and Redskin, and Other Sto- 
ries for Boys and Qirls. 

Illustrated. Clodi, $1.50. 



D. APPLETON AND COMPANY, fkn Yeric. 




Gazing in undisguised astonishment. 

(See pape 130.) 



MOOO0OO«O«OOOO0«OO«O9M 



The BRASS 
BOTTLE 






By 

F. A N S T E Y 

Author of Vice Versa, The Tinted 
VenuSy Love Among the Lions^ etc. 









OoPTBiOHT, 1899, 1900, 
By D. APPLETON AND COMPANY. 



CONTENTS 



CHAPTBR PAfiB 

I.— HOBACE VeNTIMORB REGEITE8 A COMMISSION 1 

IL — A CHEAP LOT 17 

m. — An unexpected openino .... 20 

IV.— At large 46 

v.— CabIte blanche 54 

VI. — ^Embabras de richesses .... 77 
VII. — ** Gratttudb— A lively sense op favours 

to come" 95 

VIIL— Bachelor's quarters 116 

IX. — ^**Persigos odi, puer, apparatus*' . 181 

X. — ^No place like home 166 

XI. — A fool's paradise 178 

XIL — ^The messenger of hope .... 204 

XIII. — A choice of evidb 222 

XIV. — ** Since there's no help, come, let us kiss 

AND PART ** 245 

XV.— Blushing honours 270 

XVI.— A KILLING FROST 288 

XVII.— High words 800 

XVUL^Letting him go 818 

The Epilogue 846 

v 



THE BRASS BOTTLE 



CHAPTER I 

HORACE VENTIMOKE RECEIVES A COMMISSION 

" This day six weeks — ^just six weeks ago! " 
Horace Ventimore said, half aloud, to himself, 
and pulled out his watch. " Half past twelve — 
what was I doing at; half past twelve? " 

As he sat at the window of his office in 
Great Cloister Street, Westminster, he made his 
thoughts travel back to a certain glorious morn- 
ing in August which now seemed so remote and 
irrecoverable. At this precise time he was wait- 
ing on the balcony of the Hotel de la Plage — 
the sole hostelry of St. Luc-en-Port, the tiny 
Normandy watering-place upon which, by some 
happy inspiration, he had lighted during a soli- 
tary cycling tour — ^waiting until She should 
appear. 

He eould see the whole scene: the tiny cove, 
with the violet shadow of the clifi sleeping on 
the green water; the swill of the waves lazily 



2 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

lapping against the diving-board from which he 
had plunged half an hour .before; he remem- 
bered the long swim out to the buoy; the ex- 
hilarated anticipation with which he had dressed 
and climbed the steep path to the hotel terrace. 

For was he not to pass the whole remainder 
of that blissful day in Sylvia Futvoye's society? 
Were they not to cycle together (there were, 
of course, others of the party — ^but they did not 
count), to cycle over to Veulettes, to picnic there 
under the cliff, and ride back — always together 
— in the sweetnscented dusk, over the slopes, 
between the poplars or the cornfields glowing 
golden against a sky of warm purple? 

Now he saw himself going round to the grav- 
elled courtyard in front of the hotel with a sud- 
den dread of missing her. There was nothing 
there but the little low cart, with its canvas tilt, 
which was to convey Professor Futvoye and his 
wife to the place of rendezvous. 

There was Sylvia at last, distractingly fair 
and fresh in her cool, pink blouse and cream- 
coloured skirt; how gracious and friendly and 
generally delightful she had been throughout 
that unforgetable day, which was supreme 
among others only a little less perfect, and all 
now fled forever! 

They had had drawbacks, it was true. Old 



HOBACB VANTIMORE'S COMMISSION 3 

Futvoye was perhaps the least bit of a bore 
at times, with his interminable disquisitions on 
Egyptian art and ancient Oriental character 
writing, in which he seemed convinced that Hor- 
ace must feel a perfervid interest, as, indeed, 
he thought it politic to affect. The professor 
was a most learned archaeologist, and positively 
bulged with information on his favourite sub- 
jects; but it is just possible that Horace might 
have been less curious concerning the distinction 
between Cuneiform and Aramaean or Kufic and 
Arabic inscriptions if his informant had hap- 
pened to be the father of anybody else. How- 
ever, such insincerities as these are but so many 
evidences of sincerity. 

Sq with self-tormenting ingenuity Horace 
conjured up various pictures from that Norman 
holiday of his. 

And now? . . . He looked up from the 
papers and tracing cloth on his desk, and round 
the small panelled room which served him as 
an office, at the framed plans and photographs, 
the set squares and T squares on the walls, and 
felt a dull resentment against his surroundings. 
From his window he commanded a cheerful view 
of a tall, mouldering wall, once part of the 
Abbey boundaries, surmounted by chevaiuxie- 
f me, abovQ whose rust-attenuated spikes some 



4 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

plane trees stretched their yellowing branches. 
Every now and then a leaf would abandon its 
struggle for life in despair, let go its twig, and 
gyrate slowly down to join its russet brethren 
on the cobblestones. 

" She would have come to care for me," 
Horace's thoughts ran on, disjointedly. " I 
could have sworn that that last day of all — and 
her people didn't, seem to object to me. Her 
mother asked me cordially enough to call on 
them when they were back in town. When 
I did " 

When he had called there had been a dif- 
ference — ^not an unusual sequel to an acquaint- 
anceship begun in a Continental watering-place. 
It was difficult to define, but unmistakable — a 
certain formality and constraint on Mrs. Fut- 
voye's part, and even on Sylvia's, which seemed 
intended to warn him that it is not every friend- 
ship that survives the Channel passage. So he 
had gone away sore at heart, but fully recog- 
nising that any advances in future must come 
from their side. They might ask him to din- 
ner, or at least to call again; but, more than 
a month had passed, and they had made no sign. 
No, it was all over; he must consider himself 
dropped. 

'* After all," he told himself, with a short 



HORACE VENTIMORB'S COMMISSION 5 

and anything but mirthful laugh, " if a natural 
enough. Mrs. Futvoye has probably been mak- 
ing inquiries about my professional prospects. 
It*s better as it is. What earthly chance have I 
got of marrying unless I cail get work of my 
own? It's all I can do to keep myself decently. 
I've no right to dream of asking any one — ^to 
say nothing of Sylvia— to marry me. I should 
only be rushing into temptation if I saw any 
more of her. She's not for a poor beggar like 
me, who was bom unlucky. Well, whining 
won't do any good — ^let's have a look at Beevor's 
latest performance." 

He spread out a large coloured plan, in a 
comer of which appeared the name of " William 
Beevor, Architect," and began to study it in a 
spirit of anything but appreciation. 

"Beevor gets on," he said to himself. 
" Heaven knows I don't grudge him his success. 
He's a good fellow — though he does build archi- 
tectural atrocities, and seems to like 'em. Who 
am I to give myself airs? He's successful — I'm 
not. Yet if I only had his opportunities, what 
wouldn't I make of theml " 

Let it be said here that this was not the ordi- 
nary self-delusion of an incompetent Venti- 
more really had talent above the average, with 
ideals and ambitions which might under better 



6 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

conditions have attained recognition and fulfil- 
ment before this. 

But he was not quite energetic enough^ be- 
sides being too proud^ to push himself into no- 
tice, and hitherto he had met with persistent 
ill-luck. 

So Horace had no other occupation now 
but to give Beevor, whose offices and clerk he 
shared, such slight assistance as he might re- 
quire, and it was by no means cheering to feel 
that every year of this enforced semi-idleness 
left him further handicapped in the race for 
wealth and fame, for he had already passed his 
twenty-eighth birthday. 

If Miss Sylvia Futvoye had indeed felt at- 
tracted toward him at one time it was not alto- 
gether incomprehensible. Horace Ventimore 
was not a model of manly beauty — ^models of 
manly beauty are rare out of novels, and seldom 
interesting in them; but his clear-cut, clean- 
shaven face had a certain distinction, and if there 
were faint satirical lines about the mouth, they 
were redeemed by the expression of the gray- 
blue eyes, which were remarkably frank and 
pleasant. He was well made, and tall enough 
to escape all danger of being described as short; 
light-haired and fair, or rather colourless, of 
complexion, and he gave the impression of being 



HORACE VENTIMORE'S COMMISSION 7 

a man who took life as it canke, and whpse sense 
of humour would serve as a lining for most 
clouds that might darken his horizon. 

There was a rap at the door which com- 
municated with Beevor's office, and Beevor him- 
self, a florid, thick-set man, with small side- 
whiskers, burst in. 

" I say, Ventimore, you didn't run oflP with 
the plans for that house I'm building at Larch- 
mere, did you? Because — ah, I see you're looK- 
ing over them. Sorry to deprive you, but " 

" Thanks, old fellow, take them, by all 
means. I've seen all I wanted to see." 

" Well, I'm just off to Larchmere now. 
Want to be there to look after things, and 
there's my other house at Fittlesdon. I must 
go on afterward and set it out, so I shall prob- 
ably be away some days. I'm taking Harrison 
down, too. You won't be wanting him, eh? " 

Ventimore laughed. " I can manage to do 
nothing without a clerk to help me. Your ne- 
cessity is greater than mine. Here are the 
plans." 

" I'm rather pleased with 'em myself, you 
know," said Beevor; " that roof ought to look 
well, eh? Good idea of mine lightening the slate 
with that ornamental tile-work along the top. 
You saw I put in one of your windows with just 



8 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

a trifling addition. I was almost inclined to keep 
both gables alike, as you suggested, but it struck 
me a little variety — one red brick and the other 
^ parged * — would be more out of the way." 

" Oh, much," agreed Ventimore, knowing 
that to disagree was useless. 

" Not, mind you," continued Beevor, " that 
I believe in going in for too much originality 
in domestic architecture. The average client 
no more wants an original house than he wants 
an original hat; he wants something he won't 
feel a fool in. IVe often thought, old man, that 
perhaps the reason why you haven't got on — 
you don't mind my speaking candidly, do you? " 

" Not a bit," said Ventimore cheerfully. 
" Candour's the cement of friendship. Stick 
it on." 

" Well, I was only going to say that you do 
yourself no good by all those confoundedly un- 
conventional ideas of yours. If you had your 
chance to-morrow, it's my belief you'd throw it 
away by insisting on some fantastic fad or 
other." 

" These speculations are a trifle premature, 
considering that there doesn't seem the remotest 
prospect of my ever getting a chance at all." 

" I got mine before I'd set up six months," 
said Beevor, " The great thing, however," ho 



HORACE VKNTIMORE'S COMMISSION 9 

went on, with a flavour of personal application, 
" is to know how to use it when it does come. 
Well, I must be off if I mean to catch that one 
o'clock from Waterloo. You'll see to anything 
that may come in for me while I'm away, won't 
you, and let ma know? And there's the speci- 
fication for the new wing at Tusculum Lodge — 
you might draft that some time when you've 
nothing else to do. You'll find all the papers 
on my desk. Thanks awfully, old chap." 

And Beevor hurried back to his own room, 
where for the next few minutes he could be 
heard bustling Harrison, the clerk, to make 
haste; then a hansom was whistled for, there 
were footsteps down the old stairs, the sounds 
of a departing vehicle on the uneven stones, 
and after that silence and solitude. 

It was not in Nature to avoid feeling a little 
envious. Beevor had work to do in the world; 
even if it chiefly consisted in providing sylvan 
retreats with smug or pretentious villas, it was 
still work which entitled him to consideration 
and respect in the eyes of all right-minded 
persons. 

And nobody believed in Horace; as yet he 
had never known the satisfaction of seeing the 
work of his brain realized in stone and brick and 
mortar; no building stood anywhere to bear tes- 



10 TAB BRASS BOTTLE 

timonj to his existence and capability long after 
he himself should have passed away. 

It was not a profitable train of thought, and, 
to escape from it, he went into Beevor's room 
and fetched the documents he had mentioned — 
at least they would keep him occupied until it 
was time to go to his club and lunch. He had 
no sooner settled down to his calculations, how- 
ever, when he heard a shuffing step on the land- 
ing, followed by a knock at Beevor's office door. 
" More work for Beevor,^^ he thought; " what 
luck the fellow has! I'd better go in and ex- 
plain that he's just left town on business." 

But on entering the adjoining room he heard 
the knocking repeated — this time at his own 
door; and hastening back to put an end to this 
somewhat undignified form of hide-and-seek, he 
discovered that this visitor at least was legiti- 
mately his, and was, in fact, no other than Pro- 
fessor Anthony Futvoye himself. 

The professor was standing in the door- 
way peering short-sightedly through his convex 
glasses, his head protruded from his loosely fit- 
ting great coat with an irresistible suggestion of 
an inquiring tortoise. To Horace his appear- 
ance was more welcome than that of the wealthi- 
est client — for why should Syhda's father take 
the trouble to pay him this visit unless he still 



HORACE VENTIMOEB'S COMMISSION H 

wished to continue the acquaintanceship? It 
might even be that he was the bearer of some 
message or invitation. 

So, although to an impartial eye the pro- 
fessor might not seem the kind of elderly gen- 
tleman whose society would produce any wild 
degree of exhilaration, Horace was unf eignedly 
delighted to see him. 

" Extremely kind of you to come and see 
me like this, sir," he said warmly, after estab- 
lishing him in the solitary arm-chair, reserved 
for hypothetical clients. 

" Not at all. I'm afraid your visit to Cottes- 
more Gardens some time ago was somewhat of 
a disappointment." 

"A disappointment?" echoed Horace, at 
a loss to know what was coming next. 

" I refer to the fact — which possibly, how- 
ever, escaped your notice " — explained the pro- 
fessor, scratching his scanty patch of grizzled 
whisker with a touch of irascibility, " that I my- 
self was not at home on that occasion." 

" Indeed, I was greatly disappointed," said 
Horace, " though of course I know how much 
you are engaged. It's all the more good of you 
to spare time to drop in for a chat just now." 

" I've not come to chat, Mr. Ventimore. I 

never chat. I wanted to see you about a mat- 
2 



12 THB BRASS BOTTLE 

ter which I thought you might he so obliging 
as to — But I observe you are busy — ^probably 
too busy to attend to such a small affair." 

It was clear enough now; the professor was 
going to build, and had decided — could it be 
at Sylvia's suggestion? — ^to intrust the work to 
him I 

But he contrived to subdue any self -betray- 
ing eagerness, and reply (as he could with per- 
fect truth) that he had nothing on hand just 
then which he could not lay aside, and that if 
the professor would let him know what he ro^ 
quired, he could take it up at once. 

" So much the better," said the professor; 
" so much the better. Both my wife and daugh- 
ter declared that it was making far too great a 
demand upon your good nature; but, as I told 
them, ^ I am much mistaken,' I said, ^ if Mr. 
Ventimore's practice is so extensive that he can 
not leave it for one afternoon ^ " 

Evidently it was not a house. Could he 
be needed to escort them somewhere that after- 
noonl Even that was more than he had hoped 
for a few minutes since. He hastened to repeat 
that he was perfectly free that afternoon. 

"In that case," said the professor, begin- 
ning to fumble in all his pockets — ^was he search- 
ing for a note in Sylvia's hand? — " in that case, 



HOKACE VENTIMORB'S COMMISSION 13 

you will be conferring a real favour on me if 
you can make it convenient to attend a sale at 
Hammond's Auction Rooms in. Covent Garden, 
and just bid for one or two articles on my be- 
half/' 

Whatever disappointment Ventimore felt, it 
may be said to his credit that he allowed no sign 
of it to appear. " Of course I'll go, with pleas- 
ure," he said, " if I can be of any use." 

" I knew I shouldn't come to you in vain," 
said the professor. " I remembered your won- 
derful good nature, sir, in accompanying my 
wife and daughter on all sorts of expeditions in 
the blazing hot weather we had at St. Luc — 
when you might have remained quietly at the 
hotel with me. 2Tot that I should trouble you 
now, only I have to lunch at the Oriental Club, 
and I've an appointment afterward to examine 
and report on a recently discussed inscribed cyl- 
inder for the Museum, which will fully occupy 
the rest of the afternoon, so that it's physically 
impossible for me to go to Hammond's myself, 
and I strongly object to employing a broker 
when I can avoid it. Where did I put that cata- 
logue? . . . Ah, here it is. This was sent to 
me by the executors of my old friend. General 
CoUingham, who died the other day. I met 
him at ITakada when 1 was out excavating some 



14 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

years ago. He had some official post or other 
at Cairo, and was something of a collector in his 
way, though he knew very little about it, and, 
of course, was taken in right and left Most of 
his things are downright rubbish, but there are 
just a few lots that are worth securing, at a rea- 
sonable figure, by some one who knew what he 
was about.'* 

"But, my dear professor," remonstrated 
Horace, not relishing this responsibility, " I'm 
afraid I'm as likely as not to pick up some of 
the rubbish. I've no special knowledge of Ori- 
ental curios." 

" At St Luc," said the professor, " you im- 
pressed me as having, for an amateur, an 
exceptionally accurate and comprehensive ac- 
quaintance with Egyptian and Arabian art from 
the earliest period." (If this were so, Horace 
could only feel with shame what a fearful hum- 
bug he must have been.) " However, I've no 
wish to lay too heavy a burden on you, and, as 
you will see from this catalogue, I have ticked 
off the lots in which I am chiefly interested, and 
made a note of the limit to which I am prepared 
to bid, so you'll have no difficulty." 

. " Very well," said Horace, " I'll go straight 
to Covent Garden, and slip out and get some 
lunch later on." 



HORACE VANTIMORK^ COMMISSION 15 

"Well, perhaps, if yon donH mind. The 
lots I have marked seem to come on at rather 
frequent intervals, but don't let that considera- 
tion deter you from getting your lunch, and if 
you should miss anything by not being on the 
spot, why, it's of no consequence, though I don't 
say it mightn't be a pity. In any case, you won't 
forget to mark what each lot fetches, and per- 
haps you wouldn't mind dropping me a line 
when you return the catalogue — or stay, could 
you look in some time after dinner this evening, 
and let me know how you got on? — that would 
be better." 

Horace thought it would be decidedly bet- 
ter, and undertook to call and render an account 
of his stewardship that evening. There re- 
mained the question of a deposit, should one 
or more of the lots be knocked down to him; 
and, as he was obliged to own that he had not 
so much as ten pounds about him at that par- 
ticular moment, the professor extracted a note 
for that amount from his case and handed it to 
him with the air of a benevolent person reliev- 
ing a deserving object. " Don't exceed my lim- 
its," he said, " for I can't afford more just now; 
and mind you give Hammond your own name, 
not mine. If the dealers get to know I'm after 
the things, they'll run you up. And now, I 



16 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

don't tliink I need detain you any longer, espe- 
cially as time is running on. I'm sure I can 
trust you to do the best you can for me. Till 
this evening, then." 

A few minutes later Horace was driving up 
to Covent Garden behind the best-looking horse 
he could pick out. 

The professor might have required from him 
rather more than was strictly justified by their 
acquaintanceship, and taken his acquiescence too 
much as a matter of course — ^but what of that? 
After all, he was Sylvia's parent 

" Even with my luck," he was thinking, " I 
ought to succeed in getting at least one or two 
of the lots he's marked; and if I can only please 
him, something may come of it" 

And in this sanguine mood Horace entered 
Messrs. Hanmiond's well-known auction rooms. 



CHAPTER n 

A CH£AP LOT 

In spite of the fact that it was the luncheon 
hour when Ventimore reached Hammond's Auc- 
tion Rooms, he found the big, skylighted gallery 
where the sale of the furniture and effects of the 
late General CoUingham was proceeding crowd- 
ed to a degree which showed that the deceased 
officer had some reputation as a connoisseur. 

The narrow green baize tables below the 
auctioneer's rostrum were occupied by profes- 
sional dealers, one or two of them women, who 
sat, paper and pencil in hand, with much the 
same air of outward apathy and inward concen- 
tration that may be noticed in the Casino at 
Monte Carlo. Around them stood a decorous 
and businesslike crowd, mostly dealers, also of 
various types. On a magisterial-looking bench 
sat the auctioneer, conducting the sale with a 
judicial impartiality and dignity which forbade 
him, even in his most laudatory comments, the 
faintest accent of enthusiasm. 

17 



18 THB BRASS BOTTLE 

The October sunshine, striking through the 
glazed roof, regilded the tarnished gas-stars, and 
suffused the dusty atmosphere with palest gold. 
But somehow the utter absence of excitement 
in the crowd, the calm, methodical tone of the 
auctioneer, and the occasional mournful cry of 
" Lot here, gentlemen I " from the porter when 
any article was too large to move, all served to 
depress Ventimore's usually mercurial spirits. 

For all Horace knew, the collection as a 
whole might be of little value, but it very soon 
became clear that others besides Professor 
Futvoye had singled out such gems as there 
were, also that the professor had considerably 
underrated the prices they were likely to 
fetch. 

Yentimore made his bids with all possible 
discretion, but time after time he found the 
competition for some perforated mosque lantern, 
engraved ewer, or ancient porcelain tile so great 
that his limit was soon reached, and his sole con- 
solation was that the article eventually changed 
hands for sums which were very nearly double 
the professor's estimate. 

Several dealers and brokers, despairing of 
a bargain that day, left, murmuring profanities; 
most of those who remained ceased to take a 
serious interest in the proceedings, and consoled 



A CHEAP LOT 19 

themselves with cheap witticisms at every fa- 
vourable occasion. 

The sale dragged slowly on, and, what with 
continual disappointment and want of food, 
Horace began to feel so weary that he was glad, 
as the crowd thinned, to get a seat at one of 
the green baize tables, by which time the sky- 
lights had already changed from livid gray to 
slate colour in the deepening dusk* 

A couple of meek Burmese Buddhas had 
just been put up, and bore the indignity of being 
knocked down for nine-and-sixpence the pair 
with a dreamy, inscrutable simper; Horace only 
waited for the final lot marked by the professor 
— an old Persian copper bowl, inlaid with silver 
and engraved round the rim with an inscription 
from Hafiz. 

The limit to which he was , authorized to 
go was two pounds ten; but, so desperately 
anxious was Ventimore not to return empty- 
handed that he had made up his mind to bid 
an extra sovereign if necessary, and say noth- 
ing about it. 

However, the bowl was put up, and the bid- 
ding soon rose to three pounds ten, four pounds, 
four pounds ten, five pounds, five guineas, for 
which last sum it was acquired by a bearded 
man on Horace's right, who immediately began 



20 THB BBASS BOTTLE 

to regard his purchase with a more indulgent 
eye. 

Ventimore had done his best, and failed; 
there was no reason now why he should stay 
a moment longer — and yet he sat on, from sheer 
fatigue and disinclination to move. 

" Now we come to Lot 254, gentlemen," he 
heard the auctioneer saying. mechanically: "a 
capital Egyptian munmiy case in fine con — No, 
I beg pardon, I^m wrong. This is an article 
which by some mistake has been omitted from 
the catalogue, though it ought to have been in 
it. Everything on sale to-day, gentlemen, be- 
longed to the late General Collingham. We^l 
call this No. 253a. Antique brass bottle. Very 
curious." 

One of the porters carried the bottle in be- 
tween the tables, and set it down before the 
dealers at the farther end with a tired non- 
chalance. 

It was an old, squat, pot-bellied vessel about 
two feet high, with a long, thick neck, the mouth 
of which was closed by a sort of metal stopper 
or cap; there was no visible decoration on its 
sides, which were rough and pitted by some in- 
crustation that had formed on them, and been 
partially scraped oflF. As a piece of bric-a-brac 
it certainly possessed few attractions, and there 



A CHEAP LOT 21 

"was a marked tendency to ^' guy " it among the 
more frivolous brethren, 

" What do you call this, sir? " inquired one 
of the auctioneer, with the manner of a cheeky 
boy trying to get a rise out of his form-master. 
" Is it as * unique ^ as the others? " 

** You're as well able to judge as I am," was 
the guarded reply. ** Any one can see for him- 
self it's not modem rubbish.'' 

" Make a pretty little ornament for the man- 
telpiece I " remarked a wag. 

"Is the top made to unscrew, or what, 
sir? " asked a third. ^^ Seems fixed on pretty 
tight." 

" I can't say. Probably it has not been re- 
moved for some time." 

"It's a goodish weight," said the chief 
humorist, after handling it "What's inside 
of it, sir — sardines? " 

"I don't represent it as having anything 
inside it," said the auctioneer. " If you want 
to know my opinion, I think there's money 
in it." 

"Inside /Aaff 'Owmuch?" 

"Don't misunderstand me, gentlemen. 
When I say I consider there's money in it, I'm 
not alluding to its contents. I've no reason to 
believe that it contains anything. I'm merely 



22 THB BRASS BOTTLB 

suggeBting the thing itself may be worth more 
than it looks." 

^^ Ah, it might be that without 'urting 
itself I " 

" Well, well, don't let us waste time. Look 
upon it as a pure speculation, and make me 
an oflfer for it, some of you. Come." 

*' Tuppence-'ap'nyl " cried the comic man, 
affecting to brace himself for a great effort 

"Pray be serious, gentlemen. We want 
to get on, you know. Anything to make a start. 
Five shillings? It's not the value of the metal, 
but I'll take the bid. Six. Look at it well. 
It's not an article you come across every day of 
your lives." 

The bottle was still being passed round with 
disrespectful raps and slaps, and it had now 
come to Ventimore's right-hand neighbour, who 
scrutinized it carefully, but made no bid. 

" That's all right, you know," he whispered 
in Horace's ear. " That's good stuff, that is. 
If I was you, I'd 'ave that." 

" Seven shillings — eight — nine bid for it 
over there in the comer," said the auctioneer. 

" If you think it's so good, why don't you 
have it yourself? " Horace asked his neighbour. 

" Me? Oh, well, it ain't exactly in my line, 
and getting this last lot pretty near cleaned 



A CHEAP LOT 23 

me out. IVe done for to-day, I 'ave. All the 
same, it is a curiosity; dunno as I've seen a 
brass vawse just that shape before, and it's gen- 
uine old, though all these fellers are too igno- 
rant to know the value of it. So I don't mind 
giving you the tip." 

Horace rose, the better to examine the top. 
As far as he could make out in the flickering 
light of one of the gas-stars, which the auction- 
eer had just ordered to be lit, there were half- 
erased scratches and triangular marks on the 
cap that might possibly be an inscription. If 
so, might there not be the means here of re- 
gaining the professor's favour, which he felt 
that, as it was, he should probably forfeit, justly 
or not, by his ill-success? 

He could hardly spend the professor's money 
on it, since it was not in the catalogue, and he 
had no authority to bid for it, but he had a few 
shillings of his own to spare. Why not bid for 
it on his own account as long as he could afford 
to do so? If he was outbid, as usual, it would 
not particularly matter. 

" Thirteen shillings," the auctioneer was 
saying, in his dispassionate tones. Horace 
caught his eye, and slightly raised his cata- 
logue, while another man nodded at the same 
time. " Fourteen in two places." Horace 



24 THE BRASS BOTTLB 

raised his catalogue again — " I wonH go beyond 
fifteen," he thought. 

** Fifteen. It's against you, sir. Any ad- 
vance on fifteen? Sixteen — ^thia very quaint 
old Oriental bottle going for only sixteen 
shillings." 

" After all," thought Horace, " I donH mind 
anything under a pound for it." And he bid 
seventeen shillings. " Eighteen," cried his 
rival, a short, cheery, cherub-faced little dealer, 
whose neighbours adjured him to '^ sit quiet like 
a good little boy and not waste his pocket- 
money." 

" Nineteen 1 " said Horace. *^ Pound 1 " an- 
swered the cherubic man. 

" A pound only bid for this grand brass ves- 
sel," said the auctioneer indiflferently. "All 
done at a pound? " 

Horace thought another shilling or two 
would not ruin him, and nodded. 

" A guinea. For the last time. Youll lose 
it, sir," said the auctioneer to the little man. 

" Go on. Tommy. Don't you be beat. 
Spring another bob on it. Tommy," his friends 
advised him ironically, but Tommy shook his 
head, with the air of a man who knows when 
to draw the line. " One guinea — ^and that's not 
half its value! Gentleman on my left," said 



A CHBAP LOT 25 

the auctioneer^ more in sorrow than in anger — 
and the brass bottle became Ventimore's prop- 
erty. 

He paid for it, and, since he could hardly 
walk home nursing a large metal bottle with- 
out attracting an inconvenient amount of at- 
tention, directed that it should be sent to his 
lodgings at Vincent Square. 

But when he was out in the fresh air, walk- 
ing westward to his club, he found himself won- 
dering more and more what could have pos- 
sessed him to throw away a guinea — when he 
had few enough for legitimate expenses — on an 
article of such exceedingly problematical value. 



CHAPTER III 

AN UNEXPECTED OPENING 

Ventimore made his way to Cottesmore 
Gardens that evening in a highly inconsistent, 
not to say chaotic, state of mind. The thought 
that he would presently see Sylvia again made 
his blood course quicker, while he was fully de- 
termined to say no more to her than civility 
demanded. 

At one moment he was blessing Professor 
Futvoye for his happy thought in making use 
of him; at another he was bitterly recognising 
that it would have been better for his peace of 
mind if he had been left alone. Sylvia and her 
mother had no desire to see more of him; if they 
had, they would have asked him to come before 
this. No doubt they would tolerate him now 
for the professor's sake; but who would not 
rather be ignored than tolerated? 

The more often he saw Sylvia the more 
she would make his heart ache with vain long- 
ing — whereas he was getting almost reconciled 
20 



AN UNEXPECTED OPENING 27 

to her indifference; he would very soon be cured 
if he didn't see her. 

Why should he see herf He need not go 
in at all. He had merely to leave the cata- 
logue with his compliments, and the professor 
would learn all he wanted to know. 

On second thoughts he must go in — if only 
to return the bank-note. But he would ask to 
see the professor in private. Most probably he 
would not be invited to join his wife and daugh- 
ter, but if he were, he could make some excuse. 
They might think it a little odd — ^a little dis- 
courteous, perhaps; but they would be too re- 
lieved to care much about that. 

When he got to Cottesmore Gardens, and 
was actually at the door of the Futvoyes' house, 
one of the neatest and demurest in that retired 
and intensely respectable thoroughfare, he 
began to feel a craven hope that the professor 
might be out, in which case he need only leave 
the catalogue and write a letter when he got 
home, reporting his non-success at the sale, and 
returning the note. 

And, as it happened, the professor was out, 
and Horace was not so glad as he thought he 
should be. The maid told him that the ladies 
were in the drawing-room, and seemed to take 
it for granjbed that he was coming in, so he had 



28 THB BRASS BOTTLE . 

himself announced. He would not stay long — 
just long enough to explain his business there^ 
and make it clear that he had no wish to force 
his acquaintance upon them. He found Mrs. 
Futvoye in the farther part of the pretty double 
drawing-room, writing letters, and Sylvia, more 
dazzlingly fair than ever in some sort of gauzy 
black frock with heliotrope sash and a bunch 
of Parma violets on her breast, was comfortably 
established with a book in the front room, and 
seemed surprised, if not resentful, at having to 
disturb herself. 

" I must apologize,'^ he began, with an in- 
voluntary stiffness, "for calling at this very 
unceremonious time; but the fact is, the pro- 
fessor " 

" I know all about it," interrupted Mrs. Fut- 
voye brusquely, while her shrewd, muddy gray 
eyes took him in with a cool stare that was 
humorously observant without being offensive. 
" We heard how shamefully my husband abused 
your good nature. Really, it was too bad of 
him to ask a busy man like you to put aside 
his work and go and spend a whole day at that 
stupid auction! " 

" Oh, I'd nothing particular to do. I can't 
call myself a busy man — ^unfortunately," said 
Horace, with that frankness which seems to con- 



AN UNEXPECTED OPEiONG 29 

ceal what other people know perfectly well al- 
ready. 

"Ah, well, it's very nice of you to make 
light of it — but he ought not to have done it — 
after bo short an acquaintance, too. And to 
make it worse, he has had to go out unexpect- 
edly this evening, but he'll be back before very 
long, if you don't mind waiting." 

" There's really no need to wait," said Hor- 
ace, " because this catalogue will tell him every- 
thing, and, as the particular things he wanted 
went for much more than he thought, I wasn't 
able to get any of them." 

" I'm sure I'm very glad of it," said Mrs, 
Futvoye, " for his study is crammed with odds 
and ends as it is, and I don't want the whole 
home to look like a museum or an antiquity 
shop. I'd all the trouble in the world to per- 
suade him that a great gaudy gilded mummy 
case was not quite the thing for a drawing-room. 
But, please sit down, Mr. Ventimore." 

" Thanks," stammered Horace, " but — ^but 
I mustn't stay. If you will tell the professor 
how sorry I was to miss him, and — and give 
him back this note which he left with me to 
cover any deposit, I — ^I won't interrupt you any 
longer." 

He was, as a rule, imperturbable in most 



30 THE BRASS BOTTLB 

social emergencies, but just now he was seized 
with a wild desire to escape, which, to his in- 
> finite mortification, made him behave like a shy 
schoolboy. 

" Nonsense 1*' said Mrs. Futvoye; "I am 
sure my husband would be most annoyed if we 
didn't keep you till he came.** 

" I really ought to go," he declared, wist- 
fully enough. 

" We mustn't tease Mr. Ventimore to stay, 
mother, when he so evidently wants to go," said 
Sylvia cruelly. 

" Well, I won't detain you — at least, not 
long. I wonder if you would mind posting a 
letter for me as you pass the pillar-box? I've 
almost finished it, and it ought to go to-night, 
and my maid Jessie has such a bad cold I really 
don't like sending her out with it" 

It would have been impossible to refuse to 
stay after that — even if he had wished. It 
would only be for a few minutes. Sylvia might 
spare him that much of her time. He should 
not trouble her again. So Mrs. Futvoye went 
back to her bureau, and Sylvia and he were 
practically alone. 

She had taken a seat not far from his, and 
made a few constrained remarks, obviously out 
of sheer civility. He returned mechanical re- 



AN UNEXPECTED OPENING 81 

plies, with a dreary wonder whether this could 
really be tlie girl who had talked to him with 
such charming friendliness and confidence only 
a few weeks ago in Normandy. 

And the worst of it was, she was looking 
more bewitching than ever; her slim arms 
gleaming through the black lace of her sleeves, 
and the gold threads in her soft masses of chest- 
nut hair sparkling in the light of the shaded 
lamp behind her. The slight contraction of her 
eyebrows and the mutinous downward curve of 
her mouth seemed expressive of boredom. 

" What a dreadfully long time mamma i& 
over that letter I " she said, at last. '^ I think 
I'd better go and hurry her up." 

" Please don't — unless you are particularly 
anxious to get rid of me." 

" I thought you seemed particularly anxious 
to escape," she said coldly. " And, as a family, 
we have certainly taken up quite enough of 
your time for one day." 

" That is not the way you used to talk at 
St. Lucl " he said. 

" At St. Luc? Perhaps not. But in Lon- 
don everything is so different, you see." 

" Very different." 

" When one meets people abroad who — 
who seem at all inclined to be sociable/' she 



32 THE BRASS fiOTTLB 

continued, ^' one is so apt to think them pleas- 
anter than they really are. Then one meets 
them again, and — and wonders what one ever 
saw to like in them. And it's no use pretend' 
ing one feels the same, because they generally 
understand sooner or later. Don't you find 
that?" 

"I do indeed," he said, wincing, "though 
I don't know what I've done to deserve that 
you should tell me sol " 

" Oh, I was not blaming you. You have 
been most angelic. I can't think how papa 
could have expected you to take all that trou- 
ble for him — still, you did, though you must 
have simply hated it." 

"But, good heavens 1 don't you know I 
should be only too delighted to be of the least 
service to him — or to any of you? " 

" You looked anything but delighted when 
you came in just now — you looked as if your 
one idea was to get it over as soon as you could. 
You know perfectly well you're longing now 
for mother to finish her letter and set you free. 
Do you really think I can't see that? " 

"If all that is true, or partly true," said 
Horace, " can't you guess why? " 

" I guessed how it was when you called here 
first that afternoon. Mamma had asked you 



AN UNEXPECTED OPENING 33 

to, and you thought you might as well be civil; 
perhaps you really did think it would be pleas- 
ant to see us again — ^but it wasn't the same 
thing. Oh, I saw it in your face directly — ^you 
became conventional and distant and horrid, 
and it made me horrid too; and you went away 
determined that you wouldn't see any more of 
us than you could help. That's why I was so 
furious when I heard that papa had been to 
see you, and with such an object" 

All this was so near the truth, and yet 
missed it with such perverse ingenuity, that Hor- 
ace felt bound to put himself right. 

"Perhaps I ought to leave things as they 
are," he said, " but I can't. It's no earthly use, 
I know; but may I tell you why it really was 
painful to me to meet you again? I thought 
you were changed, that you wished to forget, 
and wished me to forget — only I can't — that 
we had been friends for a short time. And 
though I never blamed you — it was natural 
enough — ^it hit me pretty hard — so hard that I 
didn't feel anxious to repeat the experience." 

" Did it hit you hard? " said Sylvia softly. 
" Perhaps I minded too, just a very little. How- 
ever," she added, with a sudden smile, that 
made two enchanting dimples in her cheeks, " it 
only shows how much more sensible it is to have 



34 THB BRASS BOTTLB 

things out Now perhaps you won't persist in 
keeping away from us? *' 

•^ I beUeve/' said Horace gloomily, still de- 
termined not to let any direct avowal pass hia 
lips, " it would be best that I should keep away/' 

Her half-closed eyes shone through their 
long lashes; the violets on her breast rose and 
f elL " I don't think I understand," she said, 
in a tone that was both hurt and offended. 

There is a pleasure in yielding to some 
temptations that more than compensates for the 
pain of any previous resistance. Come what 
might, he was not going to be misunderstood 
any longer. 

" If I must tell you," he said, " I've fallen 
desperately, hopelessly, in love With you. Now 
you know the reason." 

"It doesn't seem a very good reason for 
wanting to go away and never see me again. 
Does itV 

" Not when I've no right to speak to you 
of love?" 

" But you've done thatl " 

" I know," he said penitently; " I couldn't 
help it. But I never meant to. It slipped out. 
I quite understand how hopeless it is." 

" Of course, if you are so sure as all that, 
you are quite right not to try." 



AN UNEXPECTED OPENING 35 

" Sylvia! You can't mean that — ^that you 
do care, after all? " 

" Didn't you really see? " she said, with a 
low, happy laugh. " How stupid of youl And 
how dear I " 

He caught her hand, which she allowed to 
rest contentedly in his. " Oh, Sylvia I Then 
you do — ^you do I But, my God, what a selfish 
brute I am! For we can't marry. It may be 
years before I can ask you to come to me. Your 
father and mother wouldn't hear of your being 
engaged to me." 

" Need they hear of it just yet, Horace? " 

" Yes, they must. I should feel a cur if I 
didn't tell your mother, at all events." 

" Then you shan't feel a cur, for we'll go 
and tell her together." And Sylvia rose and 
went into the farther room, and put her arms 
round her mother's neck. " Mother, darling," 
she said, in a half whisper, ^^it's really all 
your fault for writing such very long letters, 
but — but — we don't exactly know how we 
came to do it — but Horace and I have got en- 
gaged somehow. You aren't very angry, are 
you?" 

"I think you're both extremely foolish," 
said Mrs. Futvoye, as she extricated herself 
from Sylvia's arms and turned to face Horace. 



86 THB BRASS BOTTLE 

" From all I hear, Mr. Ventimore, you're not 
in a position to marry at present/' 

" Unfortunately, no/' said Horace; " I'm 
making nothing as yet. But my chance must 
come some day. I don't ask you to give me 
Sylvia till then." 

" And you know you like Horace, mother I " 
pleaded Sylvia. " And I'm ready to wait for 
him, any time. Nothing will induce me to give 
him up, and I shall never, never care for any- 
body else. So you see you may just as well give 
us your consent! " 

" I'm afraid I've been to blame," said Mrs. 
Futvoye. " I ought to have foreseen this at St. 
Luc. Sylvia is our only child, Mr. Ventimore, 
and I would far rather see her happily married 
than making what is called a 'grand match.' 
Still, this really does seem rather hopeless. I 
am quite sure her father would never approve 
of it. Indeed, it must not be mentioned to him 
— ^he would only be irritated." 

" So long as you are not against us," said 
Horace, " you won't forbid me to see her? " 

" I believe I ought to," said Mrs. Futvoye; 
" but I don't object to your coming here occa- 
sionally, as an ordinary visitor. Only under- 
stand this — until you can prove to my husband's 
satisfaction that you are able to support Sylvia 



AN UNEXPECTED OPENING 87 

in the manner she has been accustomed to, there 
must be no formal engagement. I think I am 
entitled to ask that of you/' 

She was so clearly within her rights, and 
so much more indulgent than Horace had ex- 
pected — for he had always considered her an 
unsentimental and rather worldly woman — that 
he accepted her conditions almost gratefully. 
After all, it was enough for him that Sylvia 
returned his love, and that he should be allowed 
to see her from time to time. 

" It's rather a pity," said Sylvia medita- 
tively, a little later, when her mother had gone 
back to her letter-writing, and she and Horace 
were discussing the future — " it's rather a pity 
that you didn't manage to get something at that 
sale. It might have helped you with papa." 

" Well, I did get something, on my own ac- 
count," he said, " though I don't know whether 
it is likely to do me any good with your father." 
And he told her how he had come to acquire 
the brass bottle. 

• " And you actually gave a guinea for it? " 
said Sylvia, " when you could probably get ex- 
actly the same thing, only better, at Liberty's 
for about seven-and-sixpence! Nothing of that 
sort has any charms for papa, unless it's dirty 
and dingy and centuries old." 



38 THE BRASS BOTTLB 

" Thifl looks all that I only bought it be- 
cause, though it wasn't down on the catalogue, 
I had a fancy that it might interest the pro- 
fessor/' 

"OhI" cried Sylvia, clasping her pretty 
hands, ^^if only it does, Horace! If it turns 
out to be tremendously rare and valuable! I 
do believe dad would be so delighted that 
he'd consent to anything. Ah, that's his step 
outside . . . he's letting himself in. Now, 
mind, you don't forget to tell him about that 
bottle." 

The professor did not seem in the sweetest 
of humours as he entered the drawing-room. 
" Sorry I was obliged to be from home, and 
there was nobody but my wife and daughter 
here to entertain you. But I am glad you 
stayed — yes, I'm rather glad you stayed." 

" So am I, sir," said Horace, and proceeded 
to give his account of the sale, which did not 
serve to improve the professor's temper. He 
thrust out his imder lip at certain items in the 
catalogue. " I wish I'd gone myself," he said; 
" that bowl, a really fine example of sixteenth 
century Persian work, going for only five 
guineas! I'd willingly have given ten for it. 
There, there, I thought I could have depended 
on you to use your judgment better than that." 



AN UNEXPECTED OPENING 89 

" If you remember, sir, you strictly limited 
me to the sums you marked.*^ 

"Nothing of the sort," said the professor 
testily; "my marginal notes were merely in- 
tended as indications, no more. You might have 
known that if you had secured one of the things 
at any price I should have approved." 

Horace had no grounds for knowing any- 
thing of the kind, and much reason for believ- 
ing the contrary, but he saw no use in arguing 
the matter further, and merely said he was sorry 
to have misunderstood. 

"No doubt the fault was mine," said the 
professor, in a tone that implied the opposite. 
" Still, making every allowance for inexperi- 
ence in these matters, I should have thought it 
impossible for any one to spend a whole day 
bidding at a place like Hammond's without even 
securing a single article." 

" But, dad," put in Sylvia, " Mr. Ventimore 
did get one thing — on his own account. It's a 
brass bottle, not down in the catalogue, but he 
thinks it may be worth something perhaps. And 
he'd very much like to have your opinion." 

" Tchah! " said the professor. " Some mod- 
em bazaar work, most probably. He'd better 
have kept his money. What was this bottle of 
yours like, now, eh? " 



40 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

Horace described it. *' H^m. Seems to be 
wbat the Arabs call a ' kum-kum/ probably used 
as a sprinkler, or to hold rose-water. Hundreds 
of 'em about," commented the professor crustily. 

" It had a lid, riveted or soldered on," said 
Horace; ^' the general shape was something like 
this • • •" And he made a rapid sketch from 
memory, which the professor took reluctantly, 
and then adjusted his glasses with some increase 
of interest. 

" Ha — the form is antique, certainly. And 
the top hermetically fastened, eh? That looks 
as if it might contain something." 

'^ You don't think it has a genie inside, like 
the sealed jar the fisherman found in the Ara- 
bian Nights? " cried Sylvia. " What fun if it 
had! " 

" By genie, I presume you mean a Jinnee^ 
which is the more correct and scholarly term," 
said the professor. '^Female, Jinneeyehy and 
plural. Jinn. No, I do not contemplate that 
as a probable contingency. But it is not quite 
impossible that a vessel closed as Mr. Yentimore 
describes may have been designed as a recep- 
tacle for papyri or other records of archaeological 
interest, which may be still in preservation. I 
should recommend you, sir, to use the greatest 
precaution in removing the lid — don't expose 



AN UNEXPECTED OPENING 41 

the documents, if any, too suddenly to tlie outer 
air, and it would be better if you did not handle 
them yourself. I shall be rather curious to hear 
whether it really does contain anything, and if 
so, what/' 

"I will open it as carefully as possible," 
said Horace, " and whatever it may contain, 
you may rely upon my letting you know at 
once.'' 

He left shortly afterward, encouraged by 
the radiant trust in Sylvia's eyes, and thrilled 
by the soft secret pressure of her hand at 
parting. 

He had been amply repaid for all the hours 
he had spent in the close sale-room. And his 
luck had turned at last: he was going to suc- 
ceed; he felt it in the air, as if he were already 
fanned by Fortune's pinions. 

Still thinking of Sylvia, he let himself into 
the semi-detached old-fashioned house on the 
north side of Vincent Square, where he had 
lodged for some years. It was nearly twelve 
o'clock, and his landlady, Mrs. Bapkin, and her 
husband had already gone to bed. 

Ventimore went up to his sitting-room, a 
comfortable apartment with two long windows 
opening on to a trellised veranda and balcony, 
a room which^ as he had furnished and decorated 



42 THE BBA8S BOTTLE 

it himself to suit his own tastes, had none of the 
depressing ugliness of typical lodgings. 

It was quite dark, for the season was too 
mild for a fire, and he had to grope for the 
matches before he could light his lamp. After 
he had done so and turned up the wicks, the 
first object he saw was the bulbous, long-necked 
jar which he had bought that afternoon, and 
which now stood on the stained boards near the 
mantelpiece. It had been delivered with un- 
usual promptitude. 

Somehow he felt a sort of repulsion at the 
sight of it " It's a beastlier looking object than 
I thought,'' he said to himself disgustedly. '^ A 
chimney-pot would be about as decorative and 
appropriate in my room. What a thundering 
ass I was to waste a guinea on it! I wonder if 
there really is anything inside it. It is so in- 
fernally ugly that it o^ight to be useful. The 
professor seemed to fancy it might hold docu- 
ments, and he ought to know. Anyway, I'll 
find out before I turn in." 

He grasped it by its long, thick neck, and 
tried to twist the cap off — but it remained firm, 
which was not surprising, seeing that it was 
thickly coated with a lavalike crust. 

" I must get some of that off first, and then 
try again," he decided, and after foraging down- 



AN UNEXPECTED OPENING 43 

Stairs, he returned with a hammer alid chisel^ 
with which he chipped away the crust till the 
line of the cap was revealed, and an imcouth 
metal knob that seemed to be a catch. 

This he tapped sharply for some time, and 
again attempted to wrench off the lid, but the 
exertion made him so hot and thirsty that he 
was obliged to stop and mix himself a whisky 
and soda before resuming the attack. 

Then he gripped the vessel between his 
knees and put forth all his strength, while the 
bottle seemed to rock and heave under him in 
sympathy. 

The cap was beginning to give way, very 
slightly; one last wrench — and it came off in 
his hand with such suddenness that he was flung 
violently backward, and hit the back of his head 
smartly against an angle of the wainscot. 

He had a vague impression of the bottle 
lying on its side, with dense volumes of hiss- 
ing, black smoke pouring out of its mouth and 
towering up in a gigantic column to the ceil- 
ing; he was conscious, too, of a pungent and 
peculiarly overpowering perfume. "I don't 
know what it smells like," he thought, ^^but 
whatever it is — it's not attar of roses. I've got 
hold of some sort of infernal machine, and I 
shall be all over the square in less than a sec- 
4 



44 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

ond! '^ And, just as he arrived at this cheerful 
conclusion, he lost consciousness altogether. 

He could not have been unconscious for more 
than a few seconds, for when he opened his eyes 
the room was still thick with smoke, through 
which he dimly discerned the figure of a stran* 
ger, who seemed of abnormal and almost colos- 
sal height. But this must have been an optical 
illusion caused by the magnifying effects of the 
smoke; for, as it cleared, his visitor proved to 
be of no more than ordinary stature. He was 
elderly, and, indeed, venerable of appearance, 
and wore an Eastern robe and head-dress of a 
dark-green hue. He stood there with uplifted 
hands, uttering something in a loud tone and a 
language unknown to Horace. 

Yentimore, being still somewhat dazed, felt 
no surprise at seeing him. Mrs. Bapkin must 
have let her second floor at last — ^to some Ori- 
ental. He would have preferred an English- 
man as a fellow-lodger, but this foreigner must 
have noticed the smoke and rushed in to offer 
assistance, which was both neighbourly and 
plucky of him. 

" Awfully good of you to come in, sir,*' he 
said, as he scrambled to his feet. ^'I don't 
know what's happened exactly, but there's no 
harm done. I'm only a trifle shaken, that's 



AN UNEXPECTED OPENING 45 

all. By the way, I suppose you can speak Eng- 
lish?" 

" Assuredly I can speak so as to be under- 
stood by all whom I address,'^ . answered the 
stranger. "Dost thou not understand my 
speech?" 

" Perfectly, now," said Horace. " But you 
made a remark just now which I didn't follow — 
would you mind repeating it? " 

"I said: ^Eepentance, O Prophet of God I 
I will not return to the like conduct ever.' " 

" Ah," said Horace. " I dare say you were 
rather startled. So was I when I opened that 
bottle." 

" Tell me — ^was it indeed thy hand that re- 
moved the seal, O young man of kindness and 
good works? " 

" I certainly did open it," said Ventimore, 
" though I don't know where the kindness comes 
in — for I've no notion what was inside the 
thing." 

" I was inside it," said the stranger calmly. 



CHAPTER IV 

AT LABGE 

" So you were inside that bottle, were you? " 
said Horace blandly. " How singular 1 " He 
began to realize that he had to deal with an Ori- 
ental lunatic, and must humour him to- some 
extent Fortunately he did not seem at all dan- 
gerous, though undeniably eccentric - looking. 
His hair fell in wild profusion from under his 
high turban about his cheeks, which were of a 
uniform pale rhubarb tint ; his gray beard 
streamed out in three thin strands, and his long, 
narrow eyes, opal in hue, and set rather wide 
apart and at a slight angle, had a curious ex- 
pression, part slyness and part childlike sim- 
plicity. 

" Dost thou doubt that I speak truth? I 
tell thee that I have been confined in that ac- 
cursed vessel for countless centuries — how long, 
I know not, for it is beyond calculation." 

" I should not have thought from your ap- 
pearance, sir, that you had been so many years 
46 



AT LARGE 47 

in bottle as all that," said Horace politely, " but 
it's certainly time you had a change. May I, 
if it isn't indiscreet, ask how you came into such 
a very uncomfortable position? But probably 
you have forgotten by this time." 

" Forgotten 1 " said the other, with a sombre 
red glow in his opal eyes. " Wisely was it writ- 
ten: *Let him that desireth oblivion confer 
benefits — but the memory of an injury endur- 
eth forever.' I forget neither benefits nor in- 
Junes. 

"An old gentleman with a grievance," 
thought Ventimore. " And mad into the bar- 
gain. Nice person to have staying in the same 
house with onel " 

" Know, O best of mankind," continued the 
stranger, "that he who now addresses thee is 
Fakrash-el-Aamash, one of the Green Jinn. 
And I dwelt in the Palace of the Moimtain of 
the Clouds above the City of Babel in the Gar- 
den of Irem, which thou doubtless knowest by 
repute?" 

" I fancy I have heard of it," said Horace, 
as if it were an address in the Court Directory. 
" Delightful neighbourhood." 

" I had a kinswoman, Bedeea-el-Jemal, who 
possessed incomparable beauty and manifold 
accomplishments. And seeing that, though a 



J 



48 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

Jinneeyeh, she was of the believing Jinn, I de- 
spatched messengers to Suleyman the Great, 
the son of Daood, offering him her hand in mar- 
riage. But a certain Jarjarees, the son of 
Eejmoos, the son of Iblees — ^may he be forever 
accursed! — looked with favour upon the maid- 
en, and, going secretly unto Suleyman, per- 
suaded him that I was preparing a crafty snare 
for the king's undoing." 

" And, of course, you never thought of such 
a thing? " said Ventimore. 

" By a venomous tongue the fairest mo- 
tives may be rendered foul," was the somewhat 
evasive reply. " Thus it came to pass that Su- 
leyman — on whom be peace! — listened unto the 
voice of Jarjarees and refused to receive the 
maiden. Moreover, he commanded that I 
should be seized and imprisoned in a bottle of 
brass and cast into the Sea of El-Karkar, there 
to abide the Day of Doom." 

"Too bad — ^really too bad!" murmured 
Horace, in a tone that he hoped was sufficiently 
sympathetic. 

" But now, by thy means, O thou of noble 
ancestors and gentle disposition, my deliver- 
ance hath been accomplished; and if I were to 
serve thee for a thousand years, regarding noth- 
ing else, even thus could I not requite thee, and 



AT LARQE 49 

mj 80 doing would be a small thing according 
to thy deserts 1 " 

"Pray don't mention it," said Horace; 
" only too pleased if I've been of any use to 
you." 

" In the sky it is written upon the pages of 
the air: * He who doth kind actions shall experi- 
ence the like.' Am I not an Efreet of the Jinn? 
Demand, therefore, and thou shalt receive." 

"Poor old chap!" thought Horace, "he's 
very cracked indeed. He'll be wanting to give 
me a present of some sort soon — and of course 
I can't have that . . . My dear Mr. Fakrash," 
he said aloud, " I've done nothing — nothing at 
all — and if I had, I couldn't possibly accept any 
reward for it." 

" What are thy names, and what trade dost 
thou follow? " 

" I ought to have introduced myself before 
— let me give you my card," and Ventimore 
gave him one, which the. other took and placed 
in his girdle. "That's my business address. 
I'm an architect, if you know what that ia^ 
a man who builds houses and churches — 
mosques, you know — ^in fact, anything, when 
he can get it to build." 

"A useful calling indeed — and one to be 
rewarded with fine gold." 



50 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

" In my case/' Horace confessed, " the re- 
ward has been too fine to be perceived. In 
other words. IVe never been rewarded, be- 
cause IVe never yet had the luck to get a 
client/' 

"And what is this client of whom thou 



" Oh, well, some well-to-do merchant who 
wants a house built for him and doesn't care 
how much he spends on it. There must be lots 
of them about — but they never seem to come in 
my direction." 

" Grant me a period. of delay, and, if it be 
possible, I will procure thee such a client." 

Horace could not help thinking that any 
recommendation from such a quarter would 
hardly carry much weight; but, as the poor old 
man evidently imagined himself under an ob- 
ligation, which he was anxious to discharge, it 
would have been unkind to throw cold water 
on his good intentions. 

" My dear sir," he said, laughing, " if you 
should come across that particular type of cli- 
ent, and can contrive to impress him with the 
belief that I'm just the architect he's looking 
out for — which, between ourselves, I am, though 
nobody's discovered it yet — ^if you can get him 
to come to me, you will do me the very great- 



AT LARGE 51 

est service I could ever hope for. But don't 
give yourself any trouble over it." 

" It will be one of the easiest things that 
can be," said his visitor, " that is " (and here 
a shade of rather pathetic doubt crossed his 
face) "provided that anything of my former 
power yet remains unto me." 

"Well, never mind, sir," said Horace; "if 
you can't, I shall take the will for the deed." 

^* First of all, it will be prudent to learn 
where Suleyman is, that I may humble myself 
before him and make my peace." 

"Yes," said Horace gently, "I would. I 
should make a point of that, sir. Not now^ you 
know. He might be in bed. To-morrow 
morning." 

" This is a strange place that I am in, and 
I know not yet in what direction I should seek 
him. But till I have found him, and justified 
myself in his sight, and had my revenge upon 
Jarjarees, mine enemy, I shall know no rest." 

" Well, but go to bed now, like a sensible 
old chap," said Horace soothingly, anxious to 
prevent this poor, demented Asiatic from fall- 
ing into the hands of the police. " Plenty of 
time to go and call on Suleyman to-morrow." 

" I will search for him, even unto the ut- 
termost ends of the earth ! " 



62 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

" That's right — ^you're sure to find him in 
one of them. Only, don't you see, it's no nse 
starting to-night — the last trains have gone 
long ago." As he spoke, the night wind bore 
across the square the sound of Big Ben strik- 
ing the quarters in Westminster Clock Tower, 
and then, after a pause, the solemn boom that 
announced the first of the small hours. ^ To- 
morrow," thought Ventimore, "I'll speak to 
Mrs. Bapkin, and get her to send for a doctor 
and have him put under proper care — ^the poor 
old boy really isn't fit to go about alone! " 

" I will start now — at once," insisted the 
stranger, " for there is no time to be lost." 

" Oh, comel " said Horace, " after so many 
thousand years, a few hours more or less won't 
make any serious difference. And you canH go 
out now — ^they^ve shut up the house. Do let 
me take you upstairs to your room, sir? " 

" Not so, for I must leave thee for a sea- 
son, O young man of kind conduct. But may 
thy days be fortunate, and thy gate never cease 
to be repaired, and the nose of him that envieth 
thee be rubbed in the dust, for love for thee 
hath entered into my heart, and if it is per- 
mitted unto me, I will cover thee with the veils 
of my protection! " 

As he finished this harangue the speaker 



AT LARGE 53 

seemed^ to Ventimore's speechless amazement, 
to slip through the wall behind him. At all 
events, he had left the room somehow — and 
Horace found himseU alone. 

He rubbed the back of his head, which 
began to be painful, "He canH really have 
vanished through the wall," he said to himself. 
"That's too absurd. The fact is, Fm over- 
excited this evening — and no wonder, after all 
that's happened. The best thing I can do is 
to go to bed at once! " 

And he did. 



CHAPTEE V 

OABTE BLANCHE 

When Ventimore woke next morning his 
headache had gone, and with it the recollec- 
tion of everything but the wondrous and de- 
lightful fact that Sylvia loved him and had 
promised to be his some day. Her mother, too, 
was on his side; why should he despair of any- 
thing after that? There was the professor, to 
be sure; but even he might be brought to con- 
sent to an engagement, especially if it turned 
out that the brass bottle . . . and here Horace 
began to recall an extraordinary dream in 
connection with that rather speculative pur- 
chase of his. He had dreamed that he had 
forced the bottle open, and that it proved to 
contain not manuscripts, but an elderly Jinnee, 
who alleged that he had been imprisoned there 
by the order of King Solomon! 

What, he wondered, could have put so gro- 
tesque a fancy into his head? — and then smiled 
as he traced it to Sylvia's playful suggestion 



CAETE BLANCHE 55 

that the l)ottle might contain a "genie," as 
did the famous jar in the Arabian Nights, and 
to her father's pedantic correction of the word 
to " Jinnee/' Upon that slight foundation his 
sleeping brain had built up all that elaborate 
fabric — a scene so vivid and a story so circum- 
stantial and plausible that, in spite of its ex- 
travagance, he could hardly even now persuade 
himself that it was entirely imaginary. The 
psychology of dreams is a subject which has a 
fascinating mystery, even for the least serious 
student. 

As he entered the sitting-room, where his 
breakfast awaited him, he looked round, half 
expecting to find the bottle lying with its lid 
off in the comer, as he had last seen it in his 
dream. 

Of course it was not there — and he felt an 
odd relief. The auction-room people had not 
delivered it yet, and so much the better, for 
he had still to ascertain if it had anything in- 
side it; and who knew that it might not con- 
tain something more to his advantage than a 
maundering old Jinnee with a grievance sev- 
eral thousands of years old? 

Breakfast over, he rang for his landlady, 
who presently appeared. Mrs. Sapkin was a 
superior type of her much-abused class. She 



56 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

was scrupulously clean and neat in her person; 
her sandy hair was so smooth and tightly knotted 
that it gave her head the colour and shape of 
a Barcelona nut; she had beady eyes, nostrils 
that seemed to smell battle afar off, a wide, 
thin mouth that apparently closed with a snap, 
and a dry whitey-brown complexion suggestive 
of bran. 

But, if somewhat grim of aspect, she was a 
good soul and devoted to Horace, in whom she 
took almost a maternal interest, while regret- 
ting that he was not what she called ^^ serous- 
minded enough " to get on in the world. Kap- 
kin had wooed and married her when they were 
both in service, and he still took occasional jobs 
as an outdoor butler, though Horace suspected 
that his more staple form of industry was the 
consumption of gin and water and remarkably 
full-flavoured cigars in the basement parlour. 

" Shall you be dining in this evening, sir? " 
inquired Mrs. Sapkin. 

"I don't know; don't get anything in for 
me. I shall most probably dine at the club," 
said Horace; and Mrs. Kapkin, who had a con- 
firmed belief that all clubs were hotbeds of vice 
and extravagance, sniffed disapprovaL "By the 
way," he added, " if a kind of brass pot is sent 
here, it's all right. I bought it at a sale yester- 



CAETE BLANCHE 67 

day. Be careful how you handle it — it^B rather 
old/' 

" There was a vawse come late last night, 
sir. I don't know if it's that — ^it's old-fashioned 
enough/' 

" Then will you bring it up at once, please? 
I want to see it." 

Mrs. Eapkin retired, to reappear presently 
with the brass bottle. " I thought you'd have 
noticed it when you come in last night, sir," she 
explained, ^^for I stood it here in the comer; 
and when I see it this morning it was layin' o' 
one side, and looking that dusty and disrespect- 
able I took it down to give it a good clean — 
which it wanted it." 

It certainly looked rather the better for it, 
and the marks or scratches on the cap were more 
distinguishable; but Horace was somewhat dis- 
concerted to find that part of his dream was true 
— ^the bottle had been there. 

" I hope I've done nothing wrong, sir," said 
Mrs. Eapkin, observing his expression. " I only 
used a little warm ale to it, which is a capital 
thing for brasswork, and gave it a scrub with 
* Vitrolia' soap; but it would take more than 
that to git all the muck oflE of it." 

" It's all right, so long as you didn't try to 
get the top off/' said Horace. 



58 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

" Why, the top was off it, sir. I thought 
you^d done it with the *ammer and chisel when 
you got 'ome," said his landlady, staring. " I 
found them *ere on the carpet." 

Horace started; then that part was true, too. 
" Oh— ah," he said, " I beUeve I did. Td for- 
gotten. That reminds me. Haven't you let the 
rooms above to — to an Oriental gentleman — a 
native, you know — ^wears a green turban? " 

" That I most certainly 'ave not, Mr. Venti- 
more," said Mrs. Rapkin with emphasis, "nor 
wouldn't. Not if his turbin was all the colours 
of the rainbow, for I don't 'old with such. Why, 
there was Rapkin's own sister-in-law let her 
parlour floor to a Horiental — a Parsee he was, 
or one o' them Haf rican tribes — and reason she 
'ad to repent of it, for all his gold spectacles I 
Whatever made you fancy I should let to a 
blackamoor? " 

" Oh, I thought I saw somebody about — er 
— answering that description, and I wondered 
if " 

" Never in this 'ouse, sirl Mrs. Steggars, 
next door but one, might let to such, for all I 
can say to the contrary, not being what you 
might call particular, and her rooms more suit- 
able to savage notions* But I've enough on my 
hands, Mr. Ventimore, attending to you — not 



CARTE BLANCHE 59 

keeping a girl to do the waiting, as why should 
I while Pm well able to do it better myself? " 

As soon as she relieved him of her presence 
he examined the bottle; there was nothing what- 
ever inside it, which disposed of all the hopes 
he had entertained from that quarter. 

It was not difficult to account for the vision- 
ary Oriental as an hallucination probably in- 
spired by the heavy fumes (for he now believed 
in the fumes) which had doubtless resulted from 
the rapid decomposition of some long-buried 
spices or similar substances suddenly exposed 
to the air. If any further explanation were 
needed, the accidental blow to the back of his 
head, together with the latent suggestion from 
the Arabian Nights, would amply provide it. 

So, having settled these points to his entire 
satisfaction, he went to his office in Great Clois- 
ter Street, which he now had entirely to him- 
self, and was soon engaged in drafting the speci- 
fication for "Beevor on which he had been 
working when so fortimately interrupted the 
day before by the professor. 

The work was more or less mechanical, and 
could bring him no credit and little thanks; 
but Horace had the happy faculty of doing 
thoroughly whatever he undertook, and, as he 
sat there by his wide-open window, he soon 
5 



60 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

became entirely oblivious of all but the task 
before him. 

So much 80 that, even when the light be- 
came obscured for' a moment, as if by some 
large and opaque body in passing, he did not 
look up immediately; and when he did was 
surprised to find the only arm--chair occupied 
by a portly person who seemed to be trying to 
recover his breath. 

" I beg your pardon,'^ said Ventimore. " I 
never heard you come in." 

His visitor could only wave his hand in 
courteous deprecation, under which there 
seemed a suspicion of bewildered embarrass- 
ment. He was a rosy-gilled, spotlessly clean 
elderly gentleman, with white whiskers; his 
eyes, just then slightly protuberant, were 
shrewd but genial; he had a wide, jolly mouth 
and a double chin. He was dressed like a 
man who is above disguising his prosperity; he 
wore a large pear-shaped pearl in his crimson 
scarf, and had probably only lately discarded 
his summer white hat and white waistcoat. 

" My dear sir," he began, in a rich throaty 
voice, as soon as he could speak. ^^My dear 
sir, you must think this a most unceremonious 
way of — ah — dropping in on you — of invading 
your privacy." 



CARTB BLANCHE 61 

"Not at all," said Horace, wondering 
whether he could possibly intend him to under* 
stand that he had come in by the window. " I'm 
afraid there was no one to Show you in — ^my 
clerk is away just now." 

" No matter, sir; no matter. I found my 
way up — as you perceive. The important, I 
may say the essential, fact is that I am here." 

" Quite so," said Horace, " and may I ask 
what brought you? " 

"What brought — " The stranger's eyes 
grew fishlike for the moment. "Allow me, 
I — ^I shall come to that — ^in good time. I am 
still a little — as you can see." He glanced 
round the room. " You are, I think, an archi- 
tect, Mr. — ah — ^Mr. — um " 

"Ventimore is my name," said Horace, 
" and I am an architect." 

" Ventimore, to be sure! " He put his hand 
in his pocket and produced a card. " Yes, that 
18 the name. And an architect, Mr. Venti- 
more, so I — ^I am given to understand, of im- 
mense ability." 

" I'm afraid I can't claim to be that," said 
Horace, "but I may call myself fairly com- 
petent." 

" Competent? Why, of course you're com- 
petent. Do you suppose, sir, that I, a practical 



62 THE BBASS BOTTLE 

business man, should come to any one who was 
not competent? ^' he said, with exactly the air 
of a man trying to convince himself — against 
his own judgment — that he was acting with 
the utmost prudence. 

^^Am I to understand that some one has 
been good enough to recommend me to you? " 
inquired Horace. 

" Certainly not, sir; certainly not. I need 
no recommendation but my own judgment. I 
— ah — ^have a tolerable acquaintance with all 
that is going on in the art world, and I have 
come to the conclusion, Mr. — er — ah — ^Venti- 
more — ^I repeat, the deliberate and unassisted 
conclusion — that you are the one man living 
who can do what I want." 

" Delighted to hear it," said Horace, genu- 
inely gratified. "When did you see any of 
my designs?" 

" Never mind, sir. I don't decide without 
very good grounds. It doesnH take me long to 
make up my mind, and when my mind is 
made up I act, sir — ^I act. And, to come to 
the point, I have a small commission, unworthy, 
I am quite aware, of your — ah — distinguished 
talent, which I should like to put in your 
hands." 

" Is he going to ask me to attend a sale for 



CARTE BLANCHE 63 

him?" thought Horace, "rm hanged if I 
do!" 

*^I'in rather busy at present," he said 
dubiously, "as you may see. I'm not sure 
whether ^" 

" I'll put the matter in a nutshell, sir — in 
a nutshell. My name is Wackerbath, Samuel 
Wackerbath — tolerably well known, if I may 
say so, in City circles." Horace, of course, con- 
cealed the fact that his visitor's name and fame 
were unfamiliar to him. " I've lately bought 
a few acres on the Hampshire border, near the 
house I'm living at just now, and I've been 
thinking — as I was saying to a friend only just 
now, as. we were crossing Westminster Bridge 
— I've been thinking of building myself a little 
place there, just a humble, unpretentious house 
where I could run down for the week-end and 
entertain a friend or two in a quiet way, and 
perhaps live there some part of the year. Hith- 
erto I've rented places as I wanted 'em — old 
family seats and ancestral mansions, and so 
forth, very nice in their way, but I want to 
feel tmder a roof of my own. I want to sur- 
round myself with the simple comforts, the — ah 
— ^unassuming elegance of an English country 
house. And you're the man — ^I feel more con- 
vinced of it with every word you say — ^you're 



64 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

the man to do the job in style — ^ah — to execute 
the work as it should be done." 

Here was the long-wished-for client at last I 
And it was satisfactory to feel that he had ar- 
rived in the most ordinary and commonplace 
course, for no one could look at Mr. Samuel 
Wackerbath and believe for a moment that he 
was capable of floating through an open win- 
dow; he was not in the least that kind of 
person. 

" I shall be happy to do my best," said Hor- 
ace, with a calmness that surprised himself. 
" Could you give me some idea of the amount, 
you are prepared to spend? " 

" Well, I'm no Croesus — though I won't say 
I'm a pauper precisely — and, as I remarked 
before, I prefer comfort to splendour. I don't 
think I should be justified in going beyond — 
well, say sixty thousand." 

" Sixty thousand! " exclaimed Horace, who 
had expected about a tenth of that sum. " Oh, 
not more than sixty thousand? I see." 

" I mean on the house itself," explained 
Mr. Wackerbath. " There will be outbuildings, 
lodges, cottages, and so forth, and then some 
of the rooms I should want specially decorated. 
Altogether, before we've finished it may work 
out at about a hundred thousand. I take it 



CABTE BLANCHE 65 

that, with such a margin, you could — ah — run 
me up something that in a modest way would 
take the shine out of — I mean to say, eclipse — 
anything in the adjoining counties? '' 

" I certainly think," said Horace, " that for 
such a sum as that I can undertake that you 
shall have a house which will satisfy you." 
And he proceeded to put the usual questions 
as to site, soil, available building materials, the 
accommodation that would be required, and 
so on. 

" You're young, sir," said Mr. Wackerbath 
at the end of the interview, " but I perceive 
you are up to all the tricks of the — ^I should 
say, versed in the minutiw of your profession. 
You would like to run down and look at the 
ground,' eh? Well, that's only reasonable, and 
my wife and daughters will want to have their 
say in the matter — no getting on without pleas- 
ing the ladies, hey? Now let me see. To-mor- 
row's Sunday. Why not come down by the 
8.45 A. M. to Lipsfield? I'll have a trap, or a 
brougham and pair, or something, waiting for 
you — take you over the ground myself, bring 
you back to lunch with us at Oriel Court, and 
talk the whole thing thoroughly over. Then 
we'll send you up to town in the evening, and 
you can start work the first thing on Monday. 



66 TflE BRASS BOTTLE 

That suit you? Very well, then, we'll expect 
you to-morrow." 

With this Mr. Wackerbath departed, leav- 
ing Horace, as may be imagined, absolutely 
overwhelmed by the suddenness and complete- 
ness of his good fortune. He was no longer one 
of the unemployed; he had work to do, and, 
better still, work that would interest him, 
give him all the scope and opportunity he could 
wish for. With a client who seemed tractable, 
and to whom money was clearly no object, he 
might carry out some of his most ambitious 
ideas. 

Moreover, he would now be in a position to 
speak to Sylvia's father without fear of a 
repulse. His commission on sixty thousand 
pounds would be three thousand pounds, and 
that on the decorations and other work at least 
as much again — probably more. In a year he 
could marry without imprudence; in two or 
three years he might be making a handsome 
income, for he felt confident that, with such a 
start, he would soon have as much work as he 
could undertake. 

He was ashamed of himself for ever having 
lost heart. What were the last few years of 
weary waiting but probation and preparation 
for this splendid chance, which had come just 



CARTE BLANCHE 67 

when he really needed it, and in the most simple 
and natural manner I 

He loyally completed the work he had prom- 
ised to do for Beevor, who would have to dis- 
pense with his assistance in future, and then he 
felt too excited and restless to stay in the office, 
and, after lunching at his club as usual, he 
promised himself the pleasure of going to Cot- 
tesmore Gardens and telling Sylvia his good 
news. 

It was still early, and he walked the whole 
way, as some vent for his high spirits, enjoying 
everything with a new zest — the dusky gray- 
and-salmon sky before him, the amber, russet, 
and yellow of the scanty foliage in Kensington 
Gardens, the pungent scent of fallen chestnuts 
and acorns and burning leaves, the blue-gray 
mist stealing between the distant tree-trunks, 
and then the cheery bustle and brilliancy of 
High Street. Finally came the joy of finding 
Sylvia all alone, and witnessing her frank de- 
light at what he had come to tell her, of feeling 
her hands on his shoulders, and holding her in 
his arms, as their lips met for the first time. 
If on that Saturday afternoon there was a hap- 
pier man than Horace Ventimore, he would 
have done well to dissemble his felicity, for 
fear of incurring the jealousy of the high gods. 



68 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

When Mrs. Futvoye returned, as she did 
only too soon, to find her daughter and Horace 
seated on the same sofa, she did not pretend to 
be gratified. " This is taking a most unfair 
advantage of what I was weak enough to say 
last night, Mr. Ventimore," she began. " I 
thought I could have trusted you." 

" I shouldn't have come so soon," he sidd, 
** if my position were what it was only yester- 
day. But it's changed since then, and I venture 
to hope that even the professor won't object 
now to our being regularly engaged." And he 
told her of the sudden alteration in his pros- 
pects. 

"Well," said Mrs. Futvoye, "you had 
better speak to my husband about it." 

The professor came in shortly afterward, 
and Horace immediately requested a five min- 
utes' conversation with him in the study, which 
was readily granted. 

The study to which the professor led the 
way was built out at the back of the house, and 
crowded with Oriental curios of every age and 
kind; the furniture had been made by Cairene 
cabinet-makers, and along the cornices of the 
bookcases were texts from the Koran, while 
every chair bore the Arabic for "Welcome" 
in a gilded fire-work on its leather back; the 



CARTE BLANCHE 69 

lamp was a perforated mosque lantern with 
long pendant glass tubes like hyacinth glasses; 
a mummy case smiled from a comer with 
laboured bonhomie. 

"Well," began the professor, as soon as 
they were seated, " so there was something in 
the brass bottle after all, then? Let's have a 
look at it, whatever it is/' 

For the moment Horace had almost for- 
gotten the bottle. " Oh," he said, " I— I got it 
open, but there was nothing in it." 

" Just as I anticipated, sir," said the pro- 
fessor. " I told you there couldn't be anything 
in a bottle of that description; it was simply 
throwing away money to buy it." 

" I dare say it was, but I wished to speak to 
you on a much more important matter; " and 
Horace briefly explained his object. 

" Dear me I " said the professor, rubbing up 
his hair irritably, "dear me I I'd no idea of 
this — ^no idea at alL I was under the impres- 
sion that you volunteered to act as escort to my 
wife and daughter at St. Luc purely out of good 
nature, to relieve me from what — to a man of 
my habits in that extreme heat — ^would have 
been an arduous and distasteful duty." 

" I was not wholly unselfish, I admit," said 
Horace. "I fell in love with your daughter. 



70 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

Sir, the first day I met her, only I felt I had 
no right, as a poor man with no prospects, to 
speak to her or you at that time.'' 

'*A very creditable feeling; but Fve yet 
to learn why you should have overcome it." 

So, for the third time, Ventimore. told the 
story of the sudden turn in his fortunes. 

" I know this Mr. Samuel Wackerbath by 
name," said the professor, "one of the chief 
partners in the firm of Akers and Coverdale, the 
great estate agents, a most influential man, if 
you can only succeed in satisfying him." 

" Oh, I don't feel any misgivings about 
that, sir," said Horace. " I mean to build him 
a house that will be beyond his wildest expecta- 
tions, and you see that in a year I shall have 
earned several thousands,' and I need not say 
that I will make any settlement you think 
proper when I marry." 

" When you are in possession of those thou- 
sands," remarked the professor dryly, " it will 
be time enough to talk of marrying and mak- 
ing settlements. Meanwhile, if you and Sylvia 
choose to consider yourselves engaged I. won't 
object; only I must insist on having your prom- 
ise that you won't persuade her to marry you 
without her mother's and my consent." 

Ventimore gave this undertaking willingly 



CAETB BLANCHE 71 

enough, and they returned to the drawing- 
rooHL Mrs. Futvoye could hardly avoid asking 
Horace, in his new character of fiance^ to stay 
and dine, which it need not be said he was only 
too delighted to do. 

"There is one thing, my dear — er — ^Hor- 
ace,^^ said the professor solemnly after dinner, 
when the neat parlour maid had left them at 
dessert, "one thing on which I think it my 
duty to caution you. If you are to justify the 
confidence we have shown in sanctioning your 
engagement to Sylvia, you must curb this pro- 
pensity of yours to needless extravagance." 

"Papa!" cried Sylvia, "what could have 
made you think Horace extravagant? " 

" Really," said Horace, " I should not have 
called myself particularly extravagant." 

" Nobody ever does call himself particularly 
extravagant," retorted the professor; "but I 
observed at St. Luc that you habitually gave 
fifty centimes as a paurboire when twopence, 
or even a penny, would have been handsome. 
And no one with any regard for the value of 
money would have given a guinea for a worth- 
less brass vessel on the bare chance that it 
might contain manuscripts, which (as any one 
could have foreseen) it did not." 

"But it's not a bad sort of bottle, sir," 



72 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

pleaded Horace. " If you remember, you said 
yourself the shape was unusual. Why 
shouldnH it be worth all the money — and 
more?'' 

"To a collector, perhaps," said the pro- 
fessor, with his wonted amiability, " which you 
are not. iN'o, I can only call it a senseless and 
reprehensible waste of money." 

"Well, the truth is," said Horace, "I 
bought it with some idea that it might interest 
you:' 

" Then you are mistaken, sir. It does not 
interest me. Why should I be interested in a 
metal jar which, for anything that appears to 
the contrary, may have been cast the other 
day at Birmingham? " 

" But there is something," said Horace; " a 
seal or inscription of some sort engraved on 
the cap. Didn't I mention it? " 

" You said nothing about an inscription be- 
fore," replied the professor, with rather more 
interest. "What is the character — ^Arabic, 
Persian, Kufic? " 

" I really couldn't say — it's almost rubbed 
out — queer little triangular marks, something 
like birds' footprints." 

" That sounds like Cuneiform," said the pro- 
fessor, " which would seem to point to a Phceni- 



CARTE BLANCHE 73 

cian origin. And, as I am acquainted with no 
Oriental brass earlier than the tenth century 
of our era, I should regard your description as 
a priori distinctly unlikely. However, I should 
certainly like to have an opportunity of examin- 
ing the bottle for myself some day." 

" Whenever you please, professor. When 
can you come?" 

" Why, Fm so much occupied all day that 
I can't say for certain when I can get up to 
the office again." 

" My own days will be fairly full now," said 
Horace, "and the thing's not at the office, 
but in my rooms at Vincent Square. Why 
shouldn't you all come and dine quietly there 
some evening next week, and then you could 
examine the inscription comfortably afterward, 
you know, professor, and find out what it really 
is? Do say you will! " He was eager to have 
the privilege of entertaining Sylvia in his own 
rooms for the first time. 

" No, no," said the professor, " I see no 
reason why you should be troubled with the 
entire family. I may drop in alone some even- 
ing and take the luck of the pot, sir." 

" Thank you, papa," put in Sylvia, " but / 
should like to come too, please, and hear what 
you think of Horace's bottle. And I'm dying 



74 THE BEIASS BOTTLE 

to see his rooms. I believe they're fearfully 
luxurious." 

" I trust," observed her father, " that they 
are far indeed from answering that description. 
If they did, I should consider it a most unsatis- 
factory indication of Horace's character." 

" There's nothing magnificent about them, 
I assure you," said Horace, " though it's true 
I've had them done up, and all that sort of 
thing, at my own expense, but quite simply. 
I couldn't afford to spend much on them. But 
do come and see them. I must have a little 
dinner, to celebrate my good fortune; it will 
be so jolly if you'll all three cornel " 

" If we do come," stipulated the professor, 
^' it must be on the distinct understanding that 
you don't provide an elaborate banquet. Plain, 
simple, wholesome food, well cooked, such as we 
have had this evening, is all that is necessary. 
More would be ostentatious." 

"My dear dadl " protested Sylvia, in dis- 
tress at this somewhat dictatorial speech. 
" Surely you can leave all that to Horace 1 " 

" Horace, my dear, understands that, in 
speaking as I did, I was simply treating him 
as a potential member of my family." Here 
Sylvia made a private little grimace. " No 
young man who contemplates marrying should 



CAETB BLANCHB 75 

allow himself to launch into extravagance on 
the strength of prospects which, for all he can 
tell/* said the professor genially, " may prove 
fallacious. On the contrary, if his affection 
is sincere, he will incur as little expense as pos- 
sible, put by every penny he can save rather 
than subject the girl he professes to love to 
the ordeal of a long engagement. In other 
words, the truest lover is the best economist.*' 

" I quite understand, sir," said Horace 
good temperedly. " It would be foolish of me 
to attempt any ambitious form of entertain- 
ment, especially as my landlady, though an 
excellent plain cook, is not exactly a cordon 
bleu. So you can come to my modest board 
without misgivings." 

Before he left a provisional date for the 
dinner was fixed for an evening toward the end 
of the next week, and Horace walked home, 
treading on air rather than hard paving-stones, 
and " striking the stars with his uplifted head." 

The next day he went down to Lipsfield 
and made the acquaintance of the whole Wack- 
erbath family, who were all enthusiastic about 
the proposed country house; the site was a fine 
one, and would command extensive views. He 
came back to town the same evening, having 
spent a pleasant day and learned enough of his 
6 



76 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

client's requirements, and, what was even more 
important, those of his client's wife and daugh- 
ters, to enable him to begin work upon the 
sketch plans the next morning. 

He had not been long in his rooms at Yin- 
cent Square, and was still agreeably engaged 
in recalling the docility and ready apprecia- 
tion with which the Wackerbaths had received 
his suggestions and rough sketches, their com- 
pliments and absolute confidence in his skill, 
when he had a shock which was as disagreeable 
as it was certainly unexpected. 

For the wall before him parted like thin 
gauze, and through it stepped, smiling benig- 
nantly, the green-robed form of Fakrash-ol- 
Aamash, the Jinnee. 



CHAPTER VI 

EMBABBAS D£ BICHES8ES 

Ventimore had so thoroughly convinced 
himself that the released Jinnee was purely a 
creation of his own imagination that he rubbed 
his eyes with a start, hoping that they had de- 
ceived him. 

" Stroke thy head, O merciful and meri- 
torious one," said his visitor, " and recover thy 
faculties to receive good tidings. For it is 
indeed I — ^Fakrash-el-Aamash — ^whom thou be- 
holdest." 

" I — I'm delighted to see you," said Hor- 
ace, as cordially as he could. " Is there any- 
thing I can do for you? " 

" Nay, for hast thou not done me the great- 
est of all services by setting me free? To escape 
out of a bottle is pleasant. And to thee J owe 
my deliverance." 

It was all true, then; he had really let an 
imprisoned Genius, or Jinnee, or whatever it 
was, out of that bottle 1 He knew he could 

77 



78 THE BBASS BOTTLB 

not be dreaming now — ^he only wished he were. 
However, since it was done, his best course 
seemed to be to put a good face on it, and per- 
suade this uncanny being somehow to go away 
and leave him in peace for the future. 

" Oh, that's all right, my dear sir," he said; 
" don't think any more about it. I — ^I — rather 
understood you to say that you were starting 
on a journey in search of Solomon." 

" I have been, and returned. For I visited 
certain cities in his dominions, hoping that by 
chance I might hear news of him, but I re- 
frained from asking directly, lest thereby I 
should attract suspicion, and so Suleyman 
should learn of my escape before I could obtain 
an audience of him and implore justice." 

" Oh, I shouldn't think that was likely," 
said Horace. "If I were you, I should go 
straight back and go on travelling till I did 
find Suleyman." 

" Well was it said: * Pass not any door with- 
out knocking, lest haply that which thou seek- 
est should be behind it.' " 

"Exactly," said Horace. "Do each city 
thoroughly, house by house, and don't neglect 
the smallest clew. 'If at first you don't suc- 
ceed, try, try, try again, ' as one of our own 
poets teaches." 



EMBABBAS DE BIGHESSES 7» 

"Try, try, try again," echoed the Jin- 
nee, with an admiration that was ahnost fatu- 
ous, " Divinely gifted, truly, was he who com- 
posed such a verse." 

" He has a great reputation as a sage," said 
Horace, " and the maxim is considered one of 
his happiest efforts. Don't you think that, as 
the East is rather thickly populated, the less 
time you lose in following the poet's recom- 
mendation the better? " 

" It may be as thou sayest. But know this, 

my son, that wheresoever I may wander I 
shall never cease to study how I may most 
fully reward thee for thy kindness toward me. 
For nobly was it said: * If I be possessed of 
wealth and be not liberal, may my head never 
be extended 1 ' " 

"My good sir," said Horace, "do please 
understand that if you were to offer me any 
reward for — ^f or a very ordinary act of courtesy, 

1 should be obliged to decline it." 

"But didst thou not say that thou wast 
sorely in need of a client? " 

"That was so at the time," said Horace, 
"but since I last had the pleasure of seeing 
you I have met with one who is all I could 
possibly wish for." 

" I am indeed rejoiced to hear it," returned 



80 THB BBASS BOTTLB 

the Jinnee, " for I have succeeded in perform- 
ing the first service which thou hast demanded 
of me/^ 

Horace staggered under this severe blow to 
his pride; for the moment he could only gasp, 
" You — you sent him to me I " 

^^I and no other/^ said the Jinnee, beam- 
ing with satisfaction. " For while, unseen of 
men, I was circling in air, resolved to attend 
to thy aflfair before beginning my search for 
Suleyman — on whom be peace I — it chanced 
that I overheard a human being of prosperous 
appearance say aloud upon a bridge that he de- 
sired to erect for himself a palace if he could 
but find an architect. So, perceiving thee afar 
off seated at an open casement, I immediately 
transported him to the place and delivered him 
into thy hands." 

" But he knew my name — ^he had a memo- 
randum of it on a card in his pocket,'' said 
Horace. 

"I furnished him with the paper thou 
gavedst .me containing thy name and abode, 
lest he should be ignorant of them." 

" Well, look here, Mr. Fakrash," said the 
unfortunate Horace, " I know you meant well, 
but never do a thing like that again. If my 
brother architects came to know of it, I should 



EMBARRAS DE RICHESSES 81 

be accused of moet unprofessional behaviour. 
I'd no idea you would take that way of intro- 
ducing a client to me or I should have stopped 
it at once," 

"It was an error," said Fakrash. "No 
matter. I will undo this affair, and devise 
some other and better means of serving thee." 

Horace groaned. Undo it? How could it 
be undone now without some open scandal! 

"No, no," he said; "for Heaven^s sake 
leave things alone; you'll only make them 
worse. Forgive me, my dear Mr. Fakrash. I'm 
afraid I must seem most ungrateful; but — ^but 
I was so taken by surprise. And really I am 
extremely obliged to you. For, though the 
means you took were — were a little irregular, 
you have done me a very great service." 

" It is naught," said the Jinnee, " compared 
to those I hope to render so great a benefactor." 

"But indeed you mustn't think of trying 
to do any more for me," urged Horace, who 
felt the absolute necessity of driving any 
scheme of further benevolence out of the Jin- 
nee's head once and for all. " You have done 
enough. Why, thanks to you, I am engaged 
to build a palace that will keep me hard at 
work for ever so long." 

" Are human beings, then, so enamoured of 



82 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

hard labour? *' asked Fakrash in wonder. " It 
is not thus with the Jinn/* 

"I love my work for its own sake," said 
Horace, " and then, when I have finished it, 
I shall have earned a very fair amount of 
money — which is particularly important to me 
just now/' 

"And why, my son, art thou so desirous 
to obtain riches? '' 

" Because," said Horace, " unless a man is 
tolerably well oflf in these days he can not hope 
to marry." 

Fakrash smiled with indulgent compassion. 
"How excellent is the saying of one of old: 
* He who adventureth upon matrimony is like 
unto one who thrusteth his hand into a sack 
containing many thousands of serpents and one 
eel. Yet, if Fate so will, he may draw forth 
the eel ' 1 And thou art comely, and of an age 
when it is natural to desire the love of a 
maiden. Therefore be of good heart and a 
cheerful eye, and it may be that when I am 
more at leisure I shall find thee a helpmate 
who shall rejoice thy soul." 

" Please don't trouble to find me anything of 
the sort," said Horace hastily, with a mental 
vision of some helpless and scandalized stranger 
being shot into his dwelling, like coals. " I as- 



EMBABRAS DE BIGHESSES 83 

sure you I would much rather win a wife for my- 
self in the ordinary way — as, thanks to your 
kindness, I have every hope of doing before 
long." 

"Is there already some damsel for whom 
thy heart pineth? If so, fear not to tell me 
her name and dwelling-place, and I will as- 
suredly obtain her for thee." 

But Ventimore had seen enough of the Jin- 
nee's Oriental methods to doubt his tact and 
discretion where Sylvia was concerned. " No, 
no, of course not. I spoke generally," he said. 
** It's exceedingly kind of you, but I do wish 
I could make you understand that I am over- 
paid as it is. You have put me in the way to 
make a name and fortune for myself. If I 
fail, it will be my own fault. And, at all 
events, I want nothing more from you. If you 
mean to find Suleyman — on whom be peace! — 
you must go and live in the East altogether, 
for he certainly isn't over here; you must give 
up your whole time to it, keep as quiet as pos- 
sible, and don't be discouraged by any reports 
you may hear. Above all, never trouble your 
head about me or my aflfairs again." 

" O thou of wisdom and eloquence," said 
Fakrash, " this is most excellent advice. I 
will go then, but may I drink the cup of per- 



84 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

dition if I become unmindful of thy benevo- 
lencel " 

Andy raising his joined hands above his head 
as he spoke, he sank, feet foremost, through 
the carpet and was gone. 

"Thank Heaven 1** thought Ventimore, 
^' he's taken the hint at last. I don't think I'm 
likely to see any more of him. I feel an un- 
grateful brute for saying so, but I can't help 
it. I can not stand being under any obligation 
to a Jinnee who's been shut up in a beastly 
brass bottle ever since the days of Solomon, 
who probably had very good reasons for putting 
him there." 

Horace next asked himself whether he 
was bound in honour to disclose the facts to 
Mr. Wackerbath and give him the opportunity 
of withdrawing from the agreement if he 
thought fit. 

On the whole, he saw no necessity for tell- 
ing him anything; the only possible result would 
be to make his client suspect his sanity — and 
who would care to employ an insane architect? 
Then, if he retired from the undertaking with- 
out any explanations, what could he say to Syl- 
via? What would Sylvia's father say to hint? 
There would certainly be an end to his engage- 
ment. 



BMBARRAS DE RICHESSES g5 

After all, he had not been to blame: the 
Wackerbaths were quite satisfied; he felt per- 
fectly sure that he could justify their selection 
of him; he would wrong nobody by accepting 
the commission^ while he would only offend 
them, injure himself irretrievably, and lose all 
hope of gaining Sylvia if he made any attempt 
to undeceive them. 

And Fakrash was gone, never to return. 
So, on all these considerations, Horace decided 
that silence was his only possible policy; and, 
though some moralists may condemn his con- 
duct as disingenuous and wanting in true 
moral courage, I venture to doubt whether any 
reader, however independent, straightforward, 
and indifferent to notoriety and ridicule, would 
have behaved otherwise in Ventimore's ex- 
tremely delicate and difficult position. 

Some days passed, every working hour of 
which was spent by Horace in the rapture of 
creation. To every man with the soul of an 
artist in him there comes — only too seldom and 
delusively in most cases — a revelation of latent 
power that he had not dared to hope for. And 
now, with Ventimore, years of study and theo- 
rizing, which he had often been tempted to 
think wasted, began to bear golden fruit. He 



86 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

designed and drew with a rapidity and original- 
ity, a sense of perfect mastery of the various 
problems to be dealt with, and a delight in the 
working out of mass and detail, so intoxicating 
that he almost dreaded lest he should be the 
victim of some self-<leception. 

His evenings were, of course, spent with the 
Futvoyes in discovering Sylvia in some new 
and yet more adorably aspect. Altogether, he 
was very much in love, very happy, and very 
busy — three states not invariably found in com- 
bination. 

And, as he had foreseen, he had effectually 
got rid of Fakrash, who was evidently too en- 
grossed in the pursuit of Solomon to think of 
anything else. And there seemed no reason why 
he should abandon his search for a generation 
or two, for it would probably take all that 
time to convince him that that mighty monarch 
was no longer on the throne. 

" It would have been too brutal to tell him 
myself," thought Horace, "when he was so 
keen on having his case reheard. And it gives 
him an object, poor old buffer, and keeps him 
from interfering in my affairs — so it's best for 
both of us! " 

Horace's little dinner party had been twice 
postponed, till he had begun to have a super- 



EMBABBAS DE BICHESSES 87 

stitions fear that it never would come off; 
but at length the professor had been induced 
to give an absolute promise for a certain 
evening. 

On the day before, after breakfast, Horace 
had summoned his landlady to a consultation 
on the meniL " Nothing elaborate, you know, 
Mrs. Bapkin," said Horace, who, though he 
would have liked to provide a feast of all pro- 
curable delicacies for Sylvia's refection, was 
obliged to respect her father's prejudices. 
" Just a simple dinner, thoroughly well cooked 
and nicely served — as you know so well how to 
do it." 

" I suppose, sir, you would require Rapkin 
to wait? " 

As the ex-butler was liable to trances on 
these occasions, during which he could do noth- 
ing but smile and bow with speechless polite- 
ness, as he dropped sauce-boats and plates with 
stately and well-bred composure, Horace re- 
plied that he thought of having some one in, 
to avoid troubling Mr. Bapkin; but his wife 
expressed such confidence in her husband's 
proving equal to all emergencies that Venti- 
more waived the point, and left it to her to 
hire extra help if she thought fit. 

" Now what soup can you give us? " he in- 



88 THB BBASS BOTTLE 

quired, as Mrs. Kapkin stood at attention and 
quite unmollified. 

After protracted mental conflict she grudg- 
ingly suggested gravy soup, which Horace 
thought too unenterprising, and rejected in 
favour of mock-turtle. " Well, then, fish," he 
continued. "How about fish?" 

Mrs. Bapkin dragged the depths of her 
culinary resources for several seconds, and 
finally brought to the surface what she called 
" a nice fried sole." Horace would not hear 
of it, and urged her to aspire to salmon; she 
substituted smelts, which he opposed by a 
happy inspiration of turbot and lobster sauce. 
The sauce, however, presented insuperable dif- 
ficulties to her mind, and she oflfered a com- 
promise in the form of cod, which he finally 
accepted as a fish which the professor could 
hardly censure for ostentation. 

Next came the no less difficult questions of 
entree or no entree^ of joint and bird. 

" What's in season just now? " said Horace. 
" Let me see," and glanced out of window as 
he spoke, as though in search of some outside 
suggestion. ..." Camels, by Jove! " he sud- 
denly exclaimed. 

" Camels J Mr. Ventimore, sir? " repeated 
Mrs. Eapkin, in some bewilderment; and then, 



EMBABRAS.de BICHESSES 89 

remembering that he was given to untimely 
flippancy, she gave a tolerant little cough. 

"I'll be shot if they arenH camels," said 
Horace. "What do you make of 'em, Mrs. 
Rapkin?" 

Out of the faint mist which hung over the 
farther end of the square advanced a proces- 
sion of tall dim-coloured animals with long deli- 
cately poised necks and a mincing gait. Even 
Mrs. Kapkin could not succeed in making any- 
thing of them except camels. 

" What the deuce does a caravan of camels 
want in Vincent Square?" said Horace, with 
a sudden qualm which he could not quite ac- 
count for. 

"Most likely they belong to the Bamum 
Show, sir," suggested his landlady. " I did 
hear they were coming to Olympia again this 
year." 

" Why, of course," said Horace, intensely 
relieved. " It's on their way from the Docks 
— at least it isn't out of their way. Or 
probably the main road is up for repairs. 
That's it— they'll turn off to the left at 
the comer. See, they've got Arab drivers 
with them. Wonderful how the fellows man- 
age them." 

" It seems to me, sir," said Mrs. Kapkin, 



90 THB BRASS BOTTLE 

" that they're coming our way — they seem to 
be stopping outside." 

" Don't talk such infernal — ^I beg your par- 
don, Mrs. Rapkin — but why on earth should 
Bamum and Bailey's camels come out of their 
way to call on mef It's ridiculous, you know I " 
said Horace irritably. 

"Ridicklous it may be, sir," she retorted, 
" but they're all laying down on the road oppo- 
site our door, as you can see, and them niggers 
is making signs to you to come and speak to 
'em." 

It was true enough; one by one the camels, 
which were apparently of the purest breed, 
folded themselves up in a row at a sign from 
their attendants, who were now making pro- 
found salaams toward the window where Venti- 
more was standing. 

" I suppose I'd better go down and see what 
they want," he said, with rather a sickly smile. 
" They may have lost the way to Olympia. . . . 
I only hope Fakrash isn't at the bottom of this," 
he thought, as he went downstairs. " But he'd 
come himself; at all events he wouldn't send 
me a message on so many camels! " As he ap- 
peared on the doorstep, all the drivers flopped 
down and rubbed their flat noses on the curb- 
stone. 



EMBABBAS DE RICHESSES 91 

" For Heaven's sake, get up! '' said Horace 
angrily. " This isn't Hammersmith. Turn to 
the left, into the Yauxhall Bridge Boad, and 
ask a policeman the nearest way to Olympia.'' 

"Be not angry with thy slaves/' said the 
head driver, in excellent English. "We are 
here by command of Fakrash-el-Aamash, our 
lord, whom we are bound to obey. And we 
have brought these as gifts." 

"My compliments to your master," said 
Horace, between his teeth, " and tell him that 
a London architect has no sort of occasion for 
camels. Say that I am extremely obliged, but 
am compelled 'to decline them." 

" O highly bom one," explained the driver, 
" the camels are not a gift, but the loads which 
are upon the camelsb Suffer us therefore, since 
we dare not disobey our lord's commands, to 
carry these trifling tokens of his goodwill into 
thy dwelling and depart in peace." 

Horace had not noted till then that every 
camel bore a heavy burden, which the attend- 
ants were now unloading. " Oh, if you musty^ 
he said, not too graciously, "only make haste 
— there's a crowd collecting already, and I 
don't want to have a constable here." 

He returned to his rooms, where he found 
Mrs. Rapkin paralyzed with amazement. " It 

7 



92 THS BRASS BOTTLB 

— it's all right," he said. " I'd forgotten — ^it's 
only a few Oriental things from the place 
where that brass bottle came, you know. 
They've left them here — on approval." 

" Seems funny, their sending their goods 
'ome on camels, sir, doesn't it? " said Mrs. 
Eapkin. 

" Not at all funny," said Horace. " They 
— they're an enterprising firm — ^their way of 
advertising." 

One after another a train of dusky attend- 
ants entered, each of whom deposited his load 
on the floor with a guttural grunt and retired 
backward, until the sitting-room was blocked 
with piles of sacks and bales and chests, where- 
upon the head driver appeared and intimated 
that the tale of gifts was complete. " I wonder 
what sort of tip this fellow expects," thought 
Horace. " A sovereign seems shabby, but it's 
all I can run to. I'll try him with that." 

But the overseer repudiated all idea of a 
gratuity with stately dignity, and as Horace 
saw him to the gate he found a stolid con- 
stable by the railings. 

" This won't do, you know," said the con- 
stable. " These 'ere camels must move on or 
I shall 'ave to interfere." 

"It's all right, constable," said Horace, 



EMBABBAS DE BIGHESSES 93 

pressing into his hand the sovereign the head 
driver had rejected. " They're going to move 
on now. TheyVe brought me a few presents 
from — ^from a friend of mine in the East." 

By this time the attendants had mounted 
the kneeling camels, which rose with them and 
swung off round the square in a long, swaying 
trot that soon left the crowd far behind, star- 
ing blankly after the caravan as camel after 
camel disappeared into the haze. 

"I shouldn't mind knowin' that friend of 
yours, sir," said the constable. " Open-'anded 
sort o' gentleman, I should think." 

** Very," said Horace savagely, and re- 
turned to his room, which Mrs. Rapkin had now 
left. 

His hands shook, though hardly with joy, 
as he untied some of the sacks and bales and 
forced open the outlandish-looking chests, the 
contents of which almost took away his breath. 

For in the bales were carpets and tissues 
which he saw at a glance must be of fabulous 
antiquity and beyond all price; the sacks held 
golden ewers and vessels of strange workman- 
ship and pantomimic proportions; the chests 
were full of jewels — ropes of creamy -pink 
pearls as large as average onions, strings of un- 
cut rubies and emeralds, the smallest of which 



94 THE BRASd BOTTLB 

would have been a tight fit in an ordinary col- 
lar -box, and diamonds, roughly faceted and 
polished, each the size of a cocoa-nut, in whose 
hearts quivered a liquid and prismatic radiance. 

On the most moderate computation, the 
total value of these gifts would amount to over 
a thousand millions, ^ever, probably, in the 
world's history had any treasury contained so 
rich a store. 

It would have been difficult for anybody, 
on suddenly finding himself the possessor of 
this immense, incalculable wealth, to make any 
.comment quite worthy of the situation; but 
surely none could have been more inadequate 
and unequal to the occasion than Horace's, 
which was simply a subdued but heart-felt 
monosyllable — " Damn! " 



CHAPTER VII 



Most men, on suddenly finding themselves 
in possession of such enonnous wealth, would 
have felt some elation. Ventimore, as we have 
seen, was merely exasperated. 

And although this attitude of his may strike 
the reader as incomprehensible, or absolutely 
wrong-headed, he had more reason on his side 
than might appear at a first view. 

It was undoubtedly the fact that, '^th the 
money these treasures represented, he would be 
in a position to pay off the national debt with- 
out sensible inconvenience, convulse the money 
markets of Europe and America, bring society 
to his feet, make and unmake kingdoms — domi- 
nate, in short, the entire world. 

" But then," as Horace told himself, with a 
groan, '^ it would not amuse me in the least to 
pay off the national debt; it would probably 
send thousands of conscientious trustees half out 

96 



96 7HB BRASS BOTTLB 

of their minds with worry, and drive millions 
of inoffensive investors, who had hitherto been 
satisfied with their modest two and a half per 
cent, into ruinous speculation. ... Do I want 
to see the smartest people in London grovelling 
for anything they think they're likely to get 
out of me? As I should be perfectly well 
aware that their homage was not paid to any 
personal merit of mine, I could hardly consider 
it flattering. . . . And why should I make king- 
doms? The only thing I understand and care 
about is making houses. . . . Then am I likely 
to be a better hand at dominating the world than 
all the others who have tried the experiment? 
... I doubt it." 

He called to mind all the millionaires he 
had ever read or heard of; they didnH seem 
to get touch fun out of their riches. The ma- 
jority of them were martyrs to dyspepsia. They 
were often weighed down by the cares and re- 
sponsibilities of their position; the only people 
who were unable to obtain an audience of them 
at any time were their friends; they lived in 
a glare of publicity, and every post brought 
them hundreds of begging letters and a few 
threats; their children were in constant danger 
from kidnappers, and they themselves, after 
knowing no rest in life, could not be certain 



QEATITUDB 97 

that even their tombs would be undisturbed. 
Whether they were extravagant or thrifty, 
they were equally maligned; and whatever the 
fortune they left behind them, they could be 
absolutely certain that in a couple of genera- 
tions it would be entirely dissipated. 

"And the biggest millionaire living," con- 
cluded Horace, "is a pauper compared with 
mel" 

But there was another consideration — ^how 
was he to realize all this wealth? He knew 
enough about precious stones to be aware that 
a ruby, for instance, of the true "pigeon's- 
blood" colour and the size of a melon, as all 
these rubies were, would be worth, even when 
cut, considerably over a million; but who 
would buy it? 

" I think I see myself," he reflected grimly, 
" calling on some diamond merchant in Hatton 
Garden with half a dozen assorted jewels in a 
Gladstone bag. If he believed they were genu- 
ine he'd probably have a fit, but most likely 
heM think I'd invented some dodge for manu- 
facturing them, and had been fool enough to 
overdo the size. Anyhow, he'd want to know 
how they came into my possession — and what 
could I say? That they were part of a little 
present made to me by a Jinnee in grateful ac- 



98 THB BRASS BOTTLE 

knowledgment of my having released him from 
a brass bottle in which he'd been shut up for 
nearly three thousand years 1 Look at it how 
you will, it's not convincing. I fancy I can guess 
whaJt he'd say. And what an ass I should look! 
Then suppose the thing got into the papers? " 
Got into the papers? Why, of course it 
would get into the papers. As if it were pos- 
sible in these days for a young and hitherto 
imemployed architect suddenly to surround 
himself with wondrous carpets and gold ves- 
sels and gigantic jewels without attracting the 
notice of some enterprising journalist 1 He 
would be interviewed; the story of his curiously 
acquired riches would go the round of the 
papers; he would find himself the object of in- 
credulity, suspicion, ridicule. In imagination 
he could already see the head-lines on the news- 
sheets: 

BOTTLED BILLIONS!! 

AMAZING ABABESQUES BY AN ABCHITEGTt 
HB SAYS THE JAB CONTAINED A JINNEE. 

SENSATIONAL STORY! 

DIVERTING DETAILS! 

And so on through every phase of alliterative 
ingenuity. He ground his teeth at the mere 
thought of it. 



GRATITUDB 99 

Then Sylvia would come to hear of it — and 
what would she think? She would naturally 
be repelled, as any nice-minded girl would be, 
by the idea that her lover was in secret alliance 
with a supernatural being. And her father 
and mother — ^would they allow her to marry a 
man, however rich, whose riches came from 
such a questionable source? No one would be- 
lieve that he had not made some unholy bar- 
gain before consenting to set this incarcerated 
spirit free. He, who had acted in absolute 
ignorance, who had persistently declined all re- 
ward after realizing what he had done! 

No, it was too much. Try as he might to 
do justice to the Jinnee's gratitude and gen- 
erosity, he could not restrain a bitter resent- 
ment at the utter want of consideration shown 
in overloading him with gifts so useless and so 
compromising. No Jinnee, however old, how- 
ever imfamiliar with the world as.it is now, 
had any right to be such a fool! 

And at this, above the ramparts of sacks 
and bales which occupied all the available 
space in the room, appeared Mrs. Eapkin's 
face: 

" I was going to ask you, sir, before them 
parcels came," she began, with a dry cough 
of disapproval, " what, you would like in the 



100 THE BRASS BOTTLB 

way of ongtray to-morrow night. I thought if 
I could find a sweet-bread at all reasonable ** 

To Horace, surrounded as he was by incal- 
culable riches, sweet-breads, however unpreju- 
diced, seemed incongruous just then; the transi- 
tion of thought was too violent. 

" I canH bother about that now, Mrs. Rap- 
kin," he said; "we'll settle it to-morrow. I'm 
too busy." 

" I suppose most of the things will have to 
go back, sir, if they're only sent on approval 
like?" 

If only he knew where and how he could 
send them back! 

" I — ^I'm not sure," he said. " I may have 
to keep them." 

"Well, sir, bargain or none, I wouldn't 
have 'em as a gift myself, being so dusty and 
fusty; they can't be no use to nobody, not to 
mention there being no room to move, with 
them blocking up all the place. I'd better tell 
Rapkin to carry 'em all upstairs out of people's 
way." 

"Certainly not! " said Horace sharply, by 
no means anxious for the Rapkins to discover 
the real nature of his treasures. " Don't touch 
them, either of you. Leave them exactly as 
they are — do you understand? " 



GRATirUDE 101 

"As you please, Mr. Ventimore, sir; only, 
if they^re not to be interfered with, I donH see 
myself how you^re going to set your friends 
down to dinner to-morrow; that's all! " 

And indeed, considering that the table and 
every available chair, and even the floor, were 
heaped so high with valuables that Horace him* 
self could only just squeeze his way between 
the piles, it did seem as if his guests might find 
themselves inconveniently cramped. 

" It will be all right," he said, with an op- 
timism he was very far from feeling; "we'll 
manage, somehow. Leave it to me." 

Before he left for his ofBce he took the pre- 
caution to baffle any inquisitiveness on the part 
of his landlady by locking his sitting-room door 
and carrying away the key; but it was in a very 
different mood from his former light-hearted 
confidence that he sat down to his drawing- 
board in Great Cloister Street that morning. 
He could not concentrate his mind; his enthu- 
siasm and his ideas had alike deserted him. 

He flung down the dividers he had been 
using and pushed away the nest of saucers of 
Indian ink and colours in a fit of petulance. 
" It's no good! " he exclaimed aloud. " I feel a 
perfect duffer this morning. I couldn't even 
design a decent dog kennel! " 



102 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

Even as he spoke he became conscious of a 
presence in the room, and, looking round, saw 
Fakrashy the Jinnee, standing at his elbow, 
smiling down on him more benevolently than 
ever, and with a serene expectation of being 
warmly welcomed and thanked, which made 
Horace rather ashamed of his own inability to 
meet it. 

" He^s a thoroughly good - natured old 
chap," he thought self-reproachfully. "He 
means well, and I'm a beast not to feel more 
glad to see him — and yet, hang it all, I can't 
have him popping in and out of the office like 
a rabbit whenever the fancy takes himl " 

"Peace be upon thee!" said Fakrash. 
"Moderate the trouble of thy heart, and im- 
part thy difficulties to me." 

" Oh, they^re nothing, thanks," said Hor- 
ace, feeling decidedly embarrassed. "I got 
stuck over my work for the moment, and it 
worried me a little; that's all." 

" Then thou hast not yet received the gifts 
which I commanded should be delivered at thy 
dwelling-place? " 

"Oh, indeed I havel " replied Horace, 
" and — and I really don't know how to thank 
you for them." 

" A few trifling presents," answered the 



GBATITUDB 103 

Jinnee, " and by no means suited to thy dig- 
nity, yet the best in my power to bestow upon 
thee for the time being." 

" My dear sir, they simply overwhelm me 
with their magnificence. They^re beyond all 
price, and — and, I've no idea what to do with 
such a superabundance." 

" A superfluity of good things is good," was 
the Jinnee's sententious reply. 

" Not in my particular case. I — I quite 
feel your goodness and generosity, but indeed, 
as I told you before, it's really impossible for 
me to accept any such reward." 

Fakrash's brows contracted slightly. " How 
sayest thou that it is impossible, seeing that 
these things are already in thy possession? " 

" I know," said Horace; " but — You won't 
be offended if I speak quite plainly? " 

" Art thou not even as a son to me, and can 
I be angered at any words of thine? " 

"Well," said Horace, with sudden hope, 
" honestly, then, I would very much rather — 
if you're sure you don't mind — that you would 
take them all back again." 

"What? Dost thou demand that I, Fak- 
rash-el-Aamash, should consent to receive back 
the gifts I have bestowed? Are they then of 
so little value in thy sight? " 



104: THE BRASS BOTTLE 

"They^re of too mucli value. If I took 
such a reward for — ^for a very ordinary service, 
I should never be able to respect myself again." 

" This is not the reasoning of an intelligent 
person," said the Jinnee coldly. 

"If you think me a fool I can't help it. 
I'm not an ungrateful fool, at all events. But 
I feel very strongly that I can't keep those 
gifts of yours." 

" So thou wouldst have me break the oath 
which I sware, to reward thee fitly for thy kind 
action?" 

" But you have rewarded me already," said 
Horace, "by contriving that a wealthy mer- 
chant should engage me to build him a resi- 
dence. And — ^forgive my plain speaking — if 
you truly desire my happiness (as I am sure 
you do) you will relieve me of all these precious 
gems and merchandise, because, to be frank, 
they will not make me happy. On the con- 
trary, they are making me extremely uncom- 
fortable." 

" In the days of old," said Takrash, " all 
men pursued wealth, nor could any amass 
enough to satisfy his desires. Have riches, 
then, become so contemptible in mortal eyes 
that thou findest them but an encumbrance? 
Explain this matter." 



GRATITUDE 105 

Horace felt a natural difficulty in giving 
his real reasons. "I can't answer for other 
men/' he said. " All I know is that I've never 
been accustomed to being rich, and I'd rather 
get used to it gradually, and be able to feel 
that I owed it, as far as possible, to my own 
exertions. For, as I needn't tell you^ Mr. Fak- 
rash, riches alone don't make any fellow happy. 
You must have observed that they're apt to 
— ^well, to land him in all kinds of messes and 
worries." — "I'm talking like a confounded copy- 
book," he thought, " but I don't care how prig- 
gish I am if I can only get my way." 

Fakrash was deeply impressed. " O young 
man of marvellous moderation," he cried, 
" thy sentiments are not inferior to those of 
the great Suleyman himself — on whom be 
peace I Yet even he doth not utterly despise 
them, for he hath gold and ivory and precious 
stones in abundance. Nor hitherto have I ever 
met a human being capable of rejecting them 
when offered. But since thou seemest sin- 
cere in holding that my poor and paltry gifts 
will not advance thy welfare, and since I would 
do thee good and not evil, be it even as thou 
wouldst. For excellently was it said: *The 
worth of a present depends not on itself, nor 
on the giver, but on the receiver alone.' " 



106 'I'HE BRASS BOTTLE 

Horace could hardly believe that he had 
really prevailed. " It's extremely good of you, 
sir," he said, " to take it so well. And, if you 
could let that caravan call for them as soon 
as possible, it would be a great convenience to 
me. I mean — er — the fact is, I'm expecting 
a few friends to dine with me to-morrow, and, 
as my rooms are rather small at the best of 
times, I don't quite know how I can manage 
to entertain them at all unless something is 
done." 

" It will be the easiest of actions," replied 
Fakrash; "therefore have no fear that, when 
the time cometh, thou wilt not be able to en- 
tertain thy friends in a fitting manner. And 
for the caravan, it shall set out without delay." 

" By Jove, though, I'd forgotten one thing," 
said Horace. " I've locked up the room where 
your presents are; they won't be able to get 
in without the key." 

" Against the servants of the Jinn neither 
bolts nor bars can prevail. They shall enter 
therein and remove all that they brought thee, 
since it is thy desire." 

" Very many thanks," said Horace. " And 
you do really understand that I'm every bit as 
grateful as if I could keep the things? You 
see, I want all my time and all my energies to 



GRATITUDE 107 

complete the designs for this building — which," 
he added gracefully, " I should never be in a 
position to do at all but for your assistance." 

" On my arrival," said Fakrash, " I heard 
thee lamenting the difficulties of the task. 
Wherein do they consist? " 

" Oh," said Horace, " it's a little difficult 
to please all the different people concerned 
and myself too. I want to make something of 
it that I shall be proud of, and that will give 
me a reputation. It's a large house, and there 
will be a good deal of work in it, but I shall 
manage it all right." 

" This is a great undertaking indeed," re- 
marked the Jinnee, after he had asked various 
by no means unintelligent questions and re- 
ceived the answers. "But be gersuaded that 
it shall all turn out most fortunately and thou 
shalt obtain great renown. And now," he con- 
cluded, " I am compelled to take leave of thee, 
for I am still without any certain tidings of 
Suleyman." 

" You must not let me keep you," said Hor- 
ace, who had been on thorns for some minutes 
lest Beevor should return and find him with 
his mysterious visitor. "You see," he added 
instructively, " so long as you tvill neglect your 
own much more important affairs to look after 



108 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

mine you can hardly expect to make much 
progress^ can you? " 

' " How excellent is the saying/' replied the 
Jinnee, " * The time which is spent in doing 
kindnesses, call it not wasted.' " 

" Yes, that's very good," said Horace, feel- 
ing driven to silence this maxim, if possible, 
with one of his own invention. " But we have 
a saying, too — ^how does it go? Ah, I remem- 
ber. * It is possible for a kindness to be more 
inconvenient than an injury.' " 

"Marvellously gifted was he who discov- 
ered such a saying! " cried Fakraah. 

" I imagine," said Horace, " he learned it 
from his own experience. By the way, what 
place were you thinking of drawing — ^I mean 
trying — next for Suleyman?" 

" I purpose to repair to Nineveh and in- 
quire there." 

" Capital! " said Ventimore, with hearty ap- 
proval, for he hoped that this would take the 
Jinnee some little time. "Wonderful city, 
Nineveh, from all I've heard, though not quite 
what it used to be, perhaps. Then there's 
Babylon — you might go on there. And if you 
shouldn't hear of him there, why not strike 
down into Central Africa and do that thor- 
oughly? Or South America. It's a pity to lose 



GRATITUDE 109 

any chance. YouVe never been to South Amer- 
ica yet." 

"I have not so much as heard of such a 
country, and how should Suleyman be there? " 

"Pardon me. I didn't say he was there. 
All I meant to convey was that he's quite as 
likely to be there as anywhere else. But if 
you're going to Nineveh first, you'd better lose 
no more time, for I've always understood that 
it's rather an awkward place to get at, though 
probably it won't take you very long." 

" I care not," said Fakrash, " though the 
search be long, for in travel there are five ad- 
vantages " 

" I know," interrupted Horace, " so don't 
stop to describe them now. I should like to see 
you fairly started, and you really mustn't think 
it necessary to -break off your search again on 
my account, because, thanks to you, I shall get 
on splendidly alone for the future — if you'll 
kindly see that that merchandise is removed." 

" Thine abode shall not be encumbered with 
it for another hour," said the Jinnee, " O thou 
judicious one, in whose estimation wealth is of 
no value. Know that I have never encountered 
a mortal who pleased me as thou hast, and more- 
over be assured that such magnanimity as thine 
shall not go without a recompense! " 



110 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

" How often must I tell you," said Horace, 
in a fever of impatience, ^^ that I am already 
much more than recompensed? Now, my kind, 
generous old friend," he added, with an emo- 
tion that was not wholly insincere, ^^ the time 
has come to bid you farewell — ^forever. Let 
me picture you as revisiting your former 
haunts, penetrating to quarters of the globe 
(for, whether you are aware of it or not, this 
earth of ours is a globe) hitherto unknown to 
you, refreshing your mind by foreign travel 
and the study of mankind, but never, never 
for a moment losing sight of your main object, 
the eventual discovery of and reconciliation 
with Suleyman — on whom be peace! That is 
the only, the greatest happiness you can give 
me now. Good-bye, and bon voyage! " 

" May Allah never deprive thy friends of 
tliy presence 1" returned the Jinnee, who was 
apparently touched by this exordium. "For 
truly thou art a most excellent young man." 

And, stepping backward into the fire-place, 
he was gone in an instant. 

Ventimore sank back in his chair with a 
sigh of relief. He had begun to fear that the 
Jinnee never would take himself off, but he 
had gone at last — and for good. 

He was half ashamed of himself for feeling 



GRATITUDE m 

80 glad, for Fakrash was a good-natured old 
thing enough in hia way. Only he would 
overdo things; he had no sense of proportion. 
"Why," thought Horace, "if a fellow ex- 
pressed a modest wish for a canary in a cage, 
he's just the sort of old Jinnee to bring him 
a whole covey of rocs in an aviary about ten 
times the size of the Crystal Palace. However, 
he does understand now that I canH take any- 
thing more from him, and he isn't offended 
either, so thafs all settled. Now I can set to 
work and knock off these plans in peace and 
quietness." 

But he had not done much before he heard 
sounds in the next room which told him that 
Beevor had returned at last. He had been 
expected back from the country for the last day 
or two, and it was fortunate that he had de- 
layed so long, thought Ventimore, as he went 
in to see him and to tell him the unexpected 
piece of good fortune that had come to him- 
self since they last met. It is needless to say 
that, in giving his account, he abstained from 
any mention of the brass bottle or the Jinnee, 
as unessential elements in his story. 

Beevor's congratulations were quite as cor- 
dial as could be expected, as soon as he fully 
understood that no hoax was intended. " Well, 



112 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

old man," he said, " I am glad. I really am, 
you know. To think of a prize like that com- 
ing to you the very first timel And you don't 
even know how this Mr. Wackerbath came to 
hear of you — just happened to see your name 
up outside, and came in, I expect. Why, I 
dare say if I hadn't chanced to go away as I did 
— and about a couple of paltry two-thousand- 
pound houses, too! Ah, well, I don't grudge 
you your luck, though it does seem rather — 
It was worth waiting for; you'll be cutting me 
out before long, if you don't make a mess of this 
job. I mean — ^you know, old chap — ^if you 
don't go and give your City man a Gothic castle 
when what he wants is something with plenty 
of plate-glass windows and a Corinthian portico. 
That's the rock I see ahead for you. You must 
not mind my giving you a word of warning." 

" Oh, no," said Ventimore, " but I shan't 
give him either a Gothic castle or plenty of 
plate-glass. I venture to think he'll be pleased 
with the general idea, as I'm working it out." 

" Let's hope so," said Beevor. " If you get 
into any difficulty, you know," he added, with 
a touch of patronage, " just you come to me." 

" Thanks," said Horace, " I will. But I'm 
getting on very fairly at present." 

"I should rather like to see what you've 



GRATITUDE II3 

made of it. I might be able to give you a 
wrinkle here and there/* 

" It's awfully good of you, but I think I'd 
rather you didn't see the plans till they're quite 
finished," said Horace. The truth was that he 
was perfectly aware that the other would not 
be in sympathy with his ideas, and Horace, who 
had just been suffering from a cold fit of de- 
pression about his work, rather shrank from any 
kind of criticism, 

"Oh, just as you please," said Beevor a 
little stiffly. " You always were an obstinate 
beggar. I've had a certain amoimt of experi- 
ence, you know, in my poor little pottering 
way, and I thought I might possibly have saved 
you a cropper or two. But if you think you 
can manage better alone — only don't get bolted 
with by one of those architectural hobbies of 
yours; that's all." 

" All right, old fellow. I'll ride my hobby 
on the curb," said Horace, laughing, as he went 
back to his own office, where he found that all 
his former certainty and enjoyment of his work 
had returned to him, and by the end of the day 
he had made so much progress that his designs 
needed only a few finishing touches to be com- 
plete enough for his client's inspection. 

Better still, on retmning to his rooms that 



114 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

eveningy to change before going to Kensington, 
he found that the admirable Fakrash had kept 
hifl promise — every chest, sack, and bale had 
been cleared away. 

" Them camels come back for the things 
this afternoon, sir," said Mrs. Bapkin, ^^and 
it put me in a fluster at first, for I made sure 
you'd locked your door and took the key. But 
I must have mistook — leastways them Arabs 
got in somehow. I hope you meant everything 
to go back? " 

" Quite," said Horace, " I saw the — ^the 
person who sent them this morning, and told 
him there was nothing I cared for enough to 
keep." 

" And like his impidence sending you a lot 
o' rubbish like that on approval — and on camels, 
too!" declared Mrs. Rapkin. "Fm sure I 
don't know what them advertising firms will 
try next — ^pushing, I call it." 

Now that everything was gone, Horace felt 
a little natural regret and doubt whether he 
need have been quite so uncompromising in 
his refusal of the treasures. "I might have 
kept some of those tissues and things for Syl- 
via," he thought, " and she loves pearls. And 
a prayer-carpet would have pleased the pro- 
fessor tremendously. . . . But no, after all, it 



GRATITUDE 115 

wouldn^t have done. Sylvia couldn't go about 
in peark the size of new potatoes, and the pro- 
fessor would only have ragged me for more reck- 
less extravagance. Besides, if I'd taken any 
of the Jinnee's gifts, he might keep on pouring 
more in till I should be just where I was before 
— or worse off, really, because I couldn't de- 
cently refuse them then. So it's best as it is." 
And really, considering the temperament 
and the peculiar nature of his position, it is 
not easy to see how he could have arrived at any 
other conclusion. 



CHAPTER VIII 



bachelob's quabters 



Horace was feeling particularly happy as 
he walked back the next evening to Vincent 
Square. He had the consciousness of having 
done a good day's work, for the sketch plans 
for Mr. Wackerbath's mansion were actually 
completed and despatched to his business ad- 
dress, while Horace now felt a comfortable as- 
surance that his designs would m,ore than satisfy 
his client. 

But it was not that which made him so 
light of heart. That night his rooms were to 
be honoured for the first time by Sylvia's pres- 
ence. She would tread upon his carpet, sit in 
his chairs, comment upon, and perhaps even 
handle, his books and ornaments — and all of 
them would retain something of her charm for- 
ever after. If she only came! — for even now 
he could not quite believe that she really 
would, that some untoward event would not 
make a point of happening to prevent her, just 
116 



BACHELOR'S QUARTERS 117 

as he sometimes doubted whether his engage- 
ment was not too sweet and wonderful to be 
true — or, at all events, to last. 

As to the dinner, his mind was tolerably 
easy, for he had settled the remaining details 
of the menu with his landlady that morning, 
and he could hope that, without being so 
sumptuous as to excite the professor's wrath, it 
would still be not altogether unworthy — and 
what foods could be rare and dainty enough? 
— to be set before Sylvia. 

He would have liked to provide champagne, 
but he knew that that wine would savour of 
ostentation in the professor's judgment, so he 
had contented himself with claret — ^a sound 
vintage which he knew he could depend upon. 
Flowers, he thought, were clearly permissible, 
and he had called at a florist's on his way and 
got some chrysanthemums of palest yellow and 
deepest terra-cotta, the finest he could see. 
Some of them would look well on the centre 
of the table in an old Nankin blue-and-white 
bowl he had; the rest he could arrange about 
the room — there would just be time to see to all 
that before dressing. 

Occupied with these thoughts, he turned 
into Vincent Square, which looked vaster than 
ever with the murky haze inclosed by its high 



lis THE BRASS BOTTLE 

railings^ and under a wide expanse of steel-blue 
sky^ across which the clouds were driving fast, 
like ships in full sail scudding for harbour be- 
fore a storm. Against the mist below the 
yoimg and nearly leafless trees showed flat, 
black profiles, as of pressed sea-weed, and the 
sky immediately above the housetops was tinged 
with a sullen red from miles of lighted streets; 
from the river came the long-drawn tooting 
of tugs, mingled with the more distant wails 
and hysterical shrieks of railway engines on the 
Lambeth lines. 

And now he reached the old semi-detached 
house in which he lodged, and noticed for the 
first time how the trellis-work of the veranda 
made, with the bared creepers and hanging 
baskets, a kind of decorative pattern against 
the windows, which were suffused with a roseate 
glow that looked warm and comfortable and 
hospitable. He wondered whether Sylvia 
would notice it when she arrived. 

He passed under the old wrought-iron arch 
that once held an oil-lamp, and up a short 
but rather steep flight of steps which led to a 
brick porch built out at the side. Then he let 
himself in, and stood spell-bound with per- 
plexed amazement, for he was in a strange 
house I 



BACHELOR'S QUARTERS 119 

In place of the modest passage with the 
yellow marble wall-paper, the mahogany hat- 
stand, and the elderly barometer in a state of 
chronic depression which he knew so well, he 
found an arched octagonal entrance hall, with 
arabesques of blue, crimson, and gold, and 
richly embroidered hangings; the floor was 
marble, and from a shallow basin of alabaster 
in the centre a perfumed fountain rose and 
fell with a lulling patter. 

" I must have mistaken the number," he 
thought, quite forgetting that his latch-key had 
fitted, and he was just about to retreat before 
his intrusion was discovered, when the hangings 
parted, and Mrs. Eapkin presented herself, 
making so deplorably incongruous a figure in 
such surroundings, and looking so bewildered 
and woebegone, that Horace, in spite of his 
own increasing uneasiness, had some difficulty 
in keeping his gravity. 

" Oh, Mr. Ventimore, sir," she lamented, 
" whatever vrill you go and do next, I wonder? 
To think of your going and having the whole 
place done up and altered out of knowledge like 
this, without a word of warning! If any hal- 
terations were required, I do think as me and 
Eapkin had the right to be consulted." 

Horace let all his chrysanthemums drop un- 



120 "^"BE BRASS BOTTLE 

heeded into the fountain. He understood now; 
indeed, he seemed in some way to have under- 
stood abnost from the first, only he would not 
admit it even to himself. 

The irrepressible Jinnee was at the bottom 
of this, of course. He remembered now having 
made that unfortunate remark the day before 
about the limited accommodation his rooms 
afforded. Clearly Fakrash must have taken a 
mental note of it, and, with that insatiable mu- 
nificence which was one of his worst failings, 
had determined, by way of a pleasant surprise, 
to entirely refurnish and redecorate the apart- 
ments according to his own ideas. 

It was extremely kind of him; it showed 
a truly grateful disposition; but, oh — as Hor- 
ace thought in the bitterness of his soul — " if he 
would only learn to let well alone and mind 
his own business I " 

However, the thing was done now, and he 
must accept the responsibility for it, since he 
could hardly disclose the truth. "Didn't I 
mention I was having some alterations made? '' 
he said carelessly. " TheyVe got the work 
done rather sooner than I expected. Were — 
were they long over it? ** 

" Fm sure I canH tell you, sir, having 
stepped over to get some things I wanted in for 



BACHBLOE'S QUARTERS 121 

to-night — and Eapkin, he was round the corner, 
at hifl reading-room — ^and when I come back 
it was all done and the workmen gone 'ome, 
and how they could have jSnished such a job in 
the time beats me altogether, for when we ^ad 
the men in to do the back kitchen they took 
ten days over it." 

"Well," said Horace, evading this point, 
"however they've done this, they've done it 
remarkably well — ^you'll admit that, Mrs, Rap- 
kin?" 

" That's as may be, sir," said Mrs. Eapkin, 
with a sniff; " but it ain't my taste, nor yet I 
don't think it will be Kapkin's taste when he 
comes to see it." 

It was not Ventimore's taste either, though 
he was not going to confess it. " Sorry for 
that, Mrs. Rapkin," he said, " but I've no 
time to talk about it now; I must rush upstairs 
and dress." 

"Begging your pardon, sir, but that's a 
total unpossibility, for they've been and took 
away the staircase! " 

"Taken away the staircase? Nonsense 1" 
cried Horace. 

" So I think, Mr. Ventimore, but it's what 
them men have done, and if you don't believe 
me come and see for yourself." 



122 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

She drew the hangings aside, and revealed 
to Yentimore's astonished gaze a vast. pillared 
hall and a lofty domed roof, from which hung 
several lamps, diffusing a subdued radiance. 
High up in the wall on his left were the two 
windows which he judged to have formerly be- 
longed to his sitting-room (for either from deli- 
cacy or inability, or simply because it had not 
occurred to him, the Jinnee had not interfered 
with the external structure), but the windows 
were now masked by a perforated and gilded 
lattice, which accounted for the pattern Horace 
had noticed from without. 

The walls were covered with blue-and-white 
Oriental tiles, and a raised platform of ala- 
baster on which were divans ran round two 
sides of the hall, while the side opposite to him 
was pierced with horseshoe-shaped arches, ap- 
parently leading to other apartments. The 
centre of the marble floor was spread with 
costly rugs and piles of cushions, their rich hues 
glowing through the gold with which they were 
intricately embroidered. 

" Well," said the unhappy Horace, scarcely 
knowing what he was saying, " it — ^it all looks 
very cosi/y Mrs. Eapkin." 

"It's not for me to say, sir, but I should 
like to know where you thought of dining? " 



BACHELOR'S QUARTERS 123 

" Where? " said Horace. " Why, here, of 
course. There^s plenty of room." 

" There isn't a table left in the house," said 
Mrs. Eapkinj "so unless youM wish the cloth 
laid on the floor " 

" Oh, there must be a table somewhere," 
said Horace impatiently, "or you can borrow 
one. Don't make difficulties, Mrs. Eapkin. Rig 
up anything you like . . . Now I must be off 
and dress! " 

He got rid of her, and, on entering one of 
the archways, discovered a smaller room, in 
cedar wood incrusted with ivory and mother-of- 
pearl, which was evidently his bed-room. A 
gorgeous robe, stiff with gold and glittering 
with uncut gems, was laid out for him (for the 
Jinnee had thought of everything), but Venti- 
more naturally preferred his own evening 
clothes. 

"Mr. Eapkin! " he shouted, going to an- 
other arch that seemed to communicate with 
the basement. 

"Sir!" replied his landlord, who had just 
returned from his " reading-room," and now ap- 
peared, without a tie and in his shirt sleeves, 
looking pale and wild, as was perhaps intelli- 
gible in the circumstances. As he entered his 
unfamiliar marble halls, he staggered and his 



124 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

red eyes rolled and his mouth gaped in a cod- 
like fashion: 

"They've been at it 'ere too, seemin'ly/' 
he remarked huskily. 

" There have been a few changes," said 
Horace quietly, " as you can see. You don't 
happen to know where they've put my dress 
clothes, do you?" 

" I don't 'appen to know where they've put 
nothink. Tour dress clothes — why, I dunno 
where they've bin and put our little parler, 
where me and Maria 'ave set of a hevening all 
these years regular — ^I dunno where they've put 
the pantry, nor yet the bath-room, with 'ot and 
cold water laid on at my own expense. And 
you arsk me to find your hevening soot! I con- 
sider, sir, I consider that a unwall — that a most 
unwarranterrible liberty 'ave bin took at my 
expense." 

"My good man, don't talk rubbish! " said 
Horace. 

" I'm talking to you about what I JcnoWy 
and I assert that an Englishman's 'ome is 
his castle, and nobody's got the right when his 
back'sh turned to go and make a 'ummimis of it. 
Not nobody 'asn't." 

" Make a what of it? " cried Ventimore. 

" A 'ummums — that's English, ain't it? A 



BACHELOR'S QUARTERS 125 

bloomin' Tukkish baths! Who do you suppose 
is goin' to take apartments furnished in this 
'ere ridic'loush style? What am I goin' to 
say to my landlord? It'll about ruing me, this 
will, and after you bein' a lodger 'ere for five 
year and more, and regarded by me and Maria 
in the light of one of the f am'ly. It's 'ard — it's 
damned 'ard." 

" Now, look here," said Ventimore sharply, 
for it was obvious that Mr. Rapkin's studies 
had been lightened by copious refreshment. 
" Pull yourself together, man, and listen to 
me." 

" I respeckfuUy decline to pull myself to- 
gerrer f 'r anybody livin'," said Mr. Kapkin, with 
a noble air. " I shtan' 'ere upon my dignity as 

a man, sir. I shay, I shtand 'ere upon " 

Here he waved his hand, and sat down suddenly 
on the marble floor. 

" You can stand on anything you like — or 
can," said Horace, " but hear what I've got to 
say. The — the people who made all these 
alterations went beyond my instructions — I 
never wanted the house interfered with like 
this. Still, if your landlord does not see that 
it's value is immensely improved, he's a fool; 
that's all. Anyway, I'll take care you shanH 
suffer. If I have to put everything back in its 



126 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

fonner state, I will, at my own expense. So 
don't bother any more about that" 

" You're a genTman, Mr. Ventimore," said 
Eapkin, cautiously regaining his feet. "There's 
no mishtaking a gen'l'man. Fm a gen'l'man." 

" Of course you are," said Horace genially, 
" and I'll tell you how you're going to show it. 
You're going straight downstairs to get your 
good wife to pour some cold water over your 
head; and then you will finish dressing, see what 
you can do to get a table of some sort and lay 
it for dinner, and be ready to announce my 
friends when they arrive and wait afterward. 
Do you see?" 

" That will be all ri', Mr. Ventimore," said 
Bapkin, who was not far gone enough to be 
beyond understanding and obeying. "You 
leave it entirely to me. I'll unnertake that 
your friends shall be made comforrable, perf elly 
comforrable. I've lived as butler in the besht, 
the mosht exclu — ^most arishto — ^you know the 
sort of families I'm tryin' to r'member — and — 
and — everything was always all ri', and I shall 
be all ri' in a few minutes." 

With this assurance he stumbled downstairs, 
leaving Horace relieved, to some extent. Bap- 
kin would be sober enough after his head had 
been under the tap for a few minutes, and in 



BACHELOR'S QUARTERS 127 

any case there would be the hired waiter to rely 
upon. 

If he could only find out where his evening 
clothes were! He returned to his room and 
made another futile search, but they were 
nowhere to be found, and, as he could not bring 
himself to receive his guests in his ordinary 
morning costume — ^which the professor would 
probably construe as a deliberate slight, and 
which would certainly seem a solecism in Mrs. 
Futvoye's eyes, if not in her daughter's — ^he 
decided to put on the Eastern robes, with the 
exception of a turban, which he could not man- 
age to wind round his head. 

Thus arrayed, he re-entered the domed hall, 
where he was annoyed to find that no attempt 
had been made as yet to prepare a dinner-table, 
and he was just looking forlornly round for a 
bell when Eapkin appeared. He had appar- 
ently followed Horace's advice, for his hair 
looked wet and sleek and he was comparatively 
sober. 

"This is too bad!" cried Horace. "My 
friends may be here at any moment now — and 
nothing done! You don't propose to wait at 
table like that, do you? " he added, as he noted 
the man's overcoat and the comforter round 
his throat. 



128 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

" I do not propose to wait in any garments 
whatsoever," said Rapkin. "I'm a-goin' out, 
I am." 

" Very well," said Horace. " Then send the 
waiter up. I suppose he's come." 

" He come — but he went away again. I 
told him as he would not be required." 

"You told him that!" Horace said an- 
grily, and then controlled himself. " Come, 
Rapkin, be reasonable. You can't really mean 
to leave your wife to cook the dinner, and serve 
it too! " 

" She ain't intending to do neither; she've 
left the house already." 

" You must fetch her back! " cried Horace. 
"Good heavens, man! CanH you see what a 
fix you're leaving me in? My friends have 
started long ago — it's too late to wire to them, 
or make any other arrangements." 

There was a knock, as he spoke, at the front 
door, and odd enough was the familiar sound of 
the cast-iron knocker in that Arabian hall. 

" There they are! " he said; and the idea of 
meeting them at the door and proposing an in- 
stant adjournment to a restaurant occurred to 
him, till he suddenly recollected that he would 
have to change and try to find some money, 
even for that. " For the last time, Rapkin," he 



BACHELOR'S QUABTBRS 129 

cried, in despair, "do you mean to tell me 
there's no dinner ready? " 

" Oh,*' said Rapkin, " there's dinner right 
enough, and a lot o' barbarious furreners down 
stairs aKJOokin' of it. That's what broke Maria's 
'art — to see it all took out of her 'ands, after 
the trouble she'd gone to." 

" But I must have somebody to wait! " ex- 
claimed Horace. 

" You've got waiters enough, as fur as that 
goes. But if you expect a hordinary Christian 
man to wait along of a lot o' narsty niggers, and 
be at their beck and call, you're mistook, sir, 
for I'm going to sleep the night at my brother- 
in-law's and take his advice, he bein' a door- 
keeper, at a solicitor's orfice, and knowing the 
law, about this 'ere business, and so I wish you 
a good hevening, and 'oping your dinner will 
be to your liking and satisfaction." 

He went out by the farther archway, while 
from the entrance hall Horace could hear voices 
he knew only too well. The Futvoyes had 
come; well, at all events it seemed that there 
would be something for them to eat, since Fak- 
rash, in his anxiety to do the thing thoroughly, 
had furnished both the feast and attendance 
himself — but who was there to announce his 
guests? Where were these waiters Eapkin had 



130 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

spoken of? Ought he to go and bring in his 
visitors himself? 

These questions answered themselves the 
next instant, for, as he stood there under the 
dome, the curtains of the central arch were 
drawn with a rattle, and disclosed a double line 
of tall slaves in rich raiment, their onyx eyes 
rolling and their teeth flaAing in their choco- 
late-hued countenances as they salaamed. 

Between this double line stood Professor 
and Mrs. Futvoye and Sylvia, who had just re- 
moved their wraps and were gazing in undis- 
guised astonishment on the splendours which 
met their view. 

Horace advanced to receive them; he felt 
he was in for it now, and the only course left 
him was to put as good a face as he could on 
the matter, and trust to luck to pull him 
through without discovery or disaster. 



CHAPTER IX 

"PEKSIOOS ODI, PUBB, APPARATUS" 

" So you've found your way here at last! " 
said Horace, as he shook hands heartily with 
the professor and Mrs. Futvoye. " I canH say 
how delighted I am to see you." 

As a matter of fact he was very far from 
being at ease, which made him rather over- 
effusive, but he was determined that, if he 
could help it, he would not betray the slightest 
consciousness of anything bizarre or unusual in 
his domestic arrangements. 

" And these," said Mrs. Futvoye, who was 
extremely stately in black, with old lace and 
steel embroidery, " these are the bachelor lodg- 
ings you were so modest about! Really," she 
added, with a humorous twinkle in her shrewd 
eyes, " you young men seem to understand how 
to make yourselves comfortable — don't they, 
Anthony? " 

" They do, indeed," said the professor dryly, 

though he was secretly impressed by all he be- 

131 



132 THE BBASS BOTTLE 

held. " To produce such results as these must, 
if I mistake not, have entailed infinite research 
and considerable expense." 

"No," said Horace. "No. You— you'd 
be surprised if you knew how little." 

" I should have imagined," retorted the 
professor, " that any outlay on apartments 
which I presume you do not contemplate oc- 
cupying for an extended period must be money 
thrown away. But doubtless you know best." 

" But your rooms are quite wonderful, Hor- 
ace!" cried Sylvia, her charming eyes dilat- 
ing with admiration. " And where, where did 
you get that magnificent dressing-gown? I 
never saw anything so lovely in my lifel " 

She herself was lovely enough in a shim- 
mering billowy frock of a delicate apple-green 
hue, her only ornament a deep-blue Egyptian 
scarab with spread wings, which was suspended 
from her neck by a slender gold chain. 

" I — I ought to apologize for receiving you 
in this costume," said Horace, with embarrass- 
ment, " but the fact is I couldn't find my even- 
ing clothes anywhere, so — so I put on the first 
things that came to hand." 

" It is hardly necessary," said the professor, 
conscious of being correctly clad, and uncon- 
scious that his shirt front wad bulging and his 



"PERSICOS ODI, PUER, APPARATUS" 133 

long -eared white tie beginning to work up 
toward his left ear, " hardly necessary to offer 
any apology for the simplicity of your costume, 
which is entirely in keeping with the — ah — 
strictly Oriental character of your interior." 

" I feel dreadfully out of keeping," said 
Sylvia, " for there's nothing in the least Ori- 
ental about me — unless it's my scarab, and 
he's I don't know how many centuries behind 
the time, poor dear." 

" If you said ' thousands of years,' toy 
dear," corrected the professor, " you would be 
more accurate. That scarab was taken out of 
a tomb of the thirteenth dynasty." 

" Well, I'm sure he'd rather be where he 
is," said Sylvia, and Ventimore entirely agreed 
with her. "Horace, I mvst look at every- 
thing. How clever and original of you to trans- 
form an ordinary London house into this! " 

" Oh, well, you see," explained Horace, " it 
— it wasn't exactly done by me." 

" Whoever did it," said the professor, 
" must have devoted considerable study to East- 
em art and architecture. May I ask the name 
of the firm who executed the alterations? " 

"I really couldn't tell you, sir," answered 
Horace, who was beginning to understand how 
very bad a mauvais quart d^heure can be. 



134 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

"You can't tell me!^' exclaimed the pro- 
fessor. "You order these extensive, and / 
should say expensive, decorations, and you 
donH know the firm you selected to carry them 
out! " 

" Of course I fenoii;," said Horace, " only 
I don't happen to remember at this moment. 
Let me see, now. Was it Liberty? No, I'm 
almost certain it was not Liberty. It might 
have been Maple — but I'm not sure. Who- 
ever did do it, they were marvellously cheap." 
. " I am glad to hear it," said the professor, 
in his most unpleasant tone. " Where is your 
dining-room?" 

" Why, I rather think," said Horace help- 
lessly, as he saw a train of attendants laying 
a round cloth on the floor, " I rather think 
this is the dining-room." 

"You appear to be in some doubt," said 
the professor. 

" I leave it to them — it depends where they 
choose to lay the cloth," said Horace; "some- 
times in one place, sometimes in another. 
There's a great charm in uncertainty," he 
faltered. 

" Doubtless," said the professor. By this 
time two of the slaves, under the direction of 
a tall and turbaned black, had set a low ebony 



«PERSICOS ODI, PUEE, APPARATUS" 185 

stool, inlaid with silver and tortoise-shell in 
strange devices, on the round carpet, when 
other attendants followed with a circular silver 
tray containing covered dishes, which they 
placed on the stool and salaamed. 

" Your — ah — ^groom of the chambers," said 
the professor, " seems to have decided that we 
should dine here. I observe they are making 
signs to you that the food is on the table." 

" So it is," said Ventimore. " Shall we sit 
down?" 

"My dear Horace," said Mrs. Futvoye, 
" your butler has forgotten the chairs." 

" You don't appear to realize, my dear," 
said the professor, " that chairs would be glar- 
ingly inappropriate here." 

" Tm afraid there aren't any," said Horace, 
for there was nothing but four fat cushions. 
" Let's sit down on these," he proposed. " It — 
it's more fun." 

"At my time of life," said the professor 
irritably, as he let himself down on the plump- 
est cushion, " such fun as may be derived from 
eating one's meals on the floor fails to appeal 
to my sense of humour. However, since you 
are so determined to be Oriental, no doubt 
you are right to preserve the strictest accuracy 
in matters of detail.*' 



136 THE BBASS BOTTLE 

"7 think it's delightful/' said Sylvia. 
" Ever so much nicer than a stiff, conventional 
dinner party." 

" One may be unconventional," remarked 
her father, "without escaping the penalty of 
stiffness. Go away, sir, go away! " he added 
snappishly to one of the slaves, who was at- 
tempting to pour water over his hands. " Tour 
servant, Ventimore, appears to imagine that I 
go out to dinner without taking the trouble to 
wash my hands previously. This, I may men- 
tion, is not the case." 

" It's only an Eastern ceremony, profess- 
or," said Horace. 

" I am perfectly well aware of what is cus- 
tomary in the East," retorted the professor. 
" It does not follow that such — ah — hygienic 
precautions are either necessary or desirable at 
a Western table." 

Horace made no reply; he was too much 
occupied in gazing blankly at the silver dish- 
covers and wondering what in the world might 
be underneath, nor was his perplexity relieved 
when the covers were removed, for he was 
quite at a loss to guess how he was supposed 
to help the contents without so much as a 
fork. 

The chief attendant, however, solved this 



**PBRSICOS ODI, PUER, APPARATUS" 137 

difficulty by intimating in pantomime that the 
guests were expected to use their fingers. 

Sylvia accomplished this daintily and with 
intense amusement, but her father and mother 
made no secret of their repugnance. " If I 
were dining in the desert with a sheik, sir," 
observed the professor, " I should, I hope, know 
how to conform to his habits and prejudices. 
Here, in the heart of London, I confess all this 
strikes me as a piece of needless pedantry." 

" I'm very sorry," said Horace. " I'd have 
some knives and forks if I could, but I'm 
afraid these fellows don't even understand what 
they are, so it's useless to order any. We — we 
must rough it a little; that's all. I hope that 
— er — fish is all right, professor? " 

He did not know precisely what kind of fish 
it was, but it was fried in oil of sesame and 
flavoured with a mixture of cinnamon and 
ginger, and the professor did not appear to be 
making much progress with it. Ventimore 
himself would have infinitely preferred the 
original cod and oyster sauce, but that could 
not be helped now. 

" Thank you," said the professor, " it is 
curious — ^but characteristic. Not any more, 
thank you." 

Horace could only trust that the next 



138 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

course would be more of a success. It was a 
dish, of mutton, stewed with peaches, jujubes, 
and sugar, which Sylvia declared was delicious. 
Her parents made no comment. 

" Might I ask for something to drink? " 
said the professor presently, whereupon a cup- 
bearer poured him a goblet of iced sherbet 
perfumed with conserve of violets. " Tm 
very sorry, my dear fellow," he said, after 
sipping it, "but if I drink this I shall be 
ill all next day. If I might have a glass of 



Another slave instantly handed him a cup 
of wine, which he tasted and set down with a 
wry face and a shudder. Horace tried some 
afterward, and was not surprised. It was a 
strong, harsh wine, in which goat-skin and resin 
struggled for predominance. 

" It's an old, and I make no doubt a fine 
wine," observed the professor, with studied po- 
liteness, "but I fancy it must have suffered 
in transportation, I really think that, with 
my gouty tendency, a little whisky and Apol- 
linaris would be better for me — ^if you keep 
such Occidental fluids in the house?" 

Horace felt convinced that it would be use- 
less to order the slaves to bring whisky or Apol- 
linaris, which were of course unknown in the 



"PEBSICOS ODl, PUEB, APPARATUS" 139 

Jinnee's time^ so he could do nothing but apolo* 
gize for their absence. 

" No matter," said the professor. " I am 
not so thirsty that I can not wait till I get 
home." 

It was some consolation that both Sylvia 
and her mother conunended the sherbet, and 
even appreciated (or were so obliging as to say 
they appreciated) the entree^ which consisted of 
rice and mince-meat wrapped in vine leaves, 
and certainly was not appetizing in appearance, 
besides being difficult to dispose of gracefully. 

It was followed by a whole lamb fried in 
oil, stuffed with pounded pistachio nuts, pepper, 
nutmeg, and coriander seeds, and liberally be- 
sprinkled with rose-water and musk. 

Only Horace had sufficient courage to at- 
tack the lamb, and he found reason to regret it. 

Afterward came fowls stuffed with raisins, 
parsley, and crumbled bread, and the banquet 
ended with pastry of weird forms and repellent 
aspect. 

"I hope," said Horace anxiously, "you 
don't find this Eastern cookery very — er — ^un- 
palatable? " He himself was feeling distinctly 
unwell. " It's rather a change from the ordi- 
nary routine." 

"I haye made a truly wonderful dinner, 
10 



140 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

thank you," replied the professor, not, it is to 
be feared, without intention. " Even in the 
East I have eaten nothing approaching this." 

" But where did your landlady pick up this 
extraordinary cookery, my dear Horace?" said 
Mrs. Futvoye. " I thought you said she was 
merely a plain cook. Has she ever lived in the 
East?" 

" Not exactly in the East," explained Hor- 
ace; "not what you would call living there. 
The fact is," he continued, feeling that he was 
in danger of drivelling, and that he had better 
be as candid as he could, " this dinner wasnH 
cooked by her. She — she was obliged to go 
away quite suddenly. So the dinner was all 
sent in by — ^by a sort of contractor, you know. 
He supplies the whole thing, waiters and alll " 

" I was thinking," said the professor, " that 
for a bachelor — an engaged bachelor — ^you 
seemed to maintain rather a large establish- 
ment." 

" Oh, they're only here for the evening, 
sir," said Horace. " Capital fellows — more pic- 
turesque than the local green-grocer — and they 
don't breathe on the top of your head." 

"They're perfect dears, Horace," re- 
marked Sylvia, "only — ^well, just a litUe 
creepy-crawly to look at! " 



"PBRSICOS ODI, PUBB, APPARATUS" 141 

"It would ill become me to criticise the 
style and method of our entertamment," put 
in the professor acidly, " otherwise I might 
be tempted to observe that it scarcely showed 
that regard for economy which I should 
have " 

" Now, Anthony," put in his wife, " donH 
let us have any fault-finding. I'm sure Horace 
has done it all delightfully — ^yes, delightfully; 
and even if he has been just a little extravagant, 
it's not as if he was obliged to be as economical 
nowy you know." 

" My dear," said the professor, " I have 
yet to learn that the prospect of an increased 
income in the remote future is any justification 
for reckless profusion in the present." 

"If you only knew," said Horace, "you 
wouldn't call it profusion. It — ^it's not at all 
the dinner I meant it to be, and I'm afraid it 
wasn't particularly nice, but it's certainly not 
expensive." 

" ' Expensive ' is of course a very relative 
term. But I think I have the right to ask 
whether this is the footing on which you pro- 
pose to begin your married life? " 

It was an extremely awkward question, as 
the reader will perceive. If Ventimore replied 
— as he might with truth — ^that he had no in- 



142 THB BRASS fiOTTLB 

tention whatever of maintaining his wife in 
luxury Buch as that^ he sat convicted of selfish 
Indulgence as a bachelor; if, on the other hand, 
he declared that he did propose to maintain 
his wife in the same fantastic and exaggerated 
splendour as the present, it would certainly con- 
firm her father's disbelief in his prudence and 
economy. 

And it was that egregious old ass of a 
Jinnee, as Horace thought, with suppressed 
rage, who had let him in for all this, and who 
was now far beyond all remonstrance or re- 
proach! 

Before he could bring himself to answer 
the question, the attendants had noiselessly re- 
moved the tray and stool, and were handing 
round rose-water in a silver ewer and basin, the 
character of which, luckily or otherwise, turned 
the professor's inquisitiveness into a different 
channel. 

" These are not bad — really not bad at all," 
he said, inspecting the design. "Where did 
you manage to pick them up? " 

"I didn't," said Horace. "They're pro- 
vided by the — the person who supplies the 
dinner." * 

" Can you give me his address? " said the 
professor, scenting a bargain. "Because, really, 



"PBRSIOOS GDI, PUBB, APPARATUS" 143 

you know, these things are probably antiques — 
much too good to be used for business pur- 
poses.*' 

'* I'm wrong/' said Horace lamely; " these 
particular things are — are lent By an eccen- 
tric Oriental gentleman, as a great favour." 

" Do I know him? Is he a collector of such 
things?" 

"You wouldn't have met him — ^he — ^he's 
lived a very retired life of late." 

" I should very much like to see his collec- 
tion. If you could give me a letter of intro- 
duction " 

"No," said Horace, in a state of prickly 
heat, " it wouldn't be any use. His collection 
is never shown. He — he's a most peculiar man. 
And just now he's abroad." 

"Ah, pardon me, if I've been indiscreet, 
but I concluded from what you said that this 
— ah — ^banquet was furnished by a professional 
caterer." 

" Oh, the banquet? Yes, that came from 
the stores," said Horace mendaciously. " The 
— the Oriental Cookery Department. They've 
just started it, you know, so — so I thought I'd 
give them a trial. But it's not what I call 
properly organized yet." 

The slaves were now with low obeisances 



144 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

inviting them to seat themselves on the divan 
which lined part of the hall. 

" Ha! '* said the professor, as he rose from 
his cushion, cracking audibly. " So we are to 
have our coffee and what not over there — ^hey? 
Well, my boy, I shan't be sorry, I confess, to 
have something to lean my back against, and 
a cigar, a mild cigar, will — ah — aid digestion. 
You do smoke here? " 

"Smoke?" said Horace. " Wliy, of 
course. All over the place. Here! " he said, 
clapping his hands, which brought an obse- 
quious slave instantly to his side. " Just bring 
coffee and cigars, will you? " 

The slave rolled his brandy-ball eyes in 
obvious perplexity. 

" Coffee! " said Horace. " You must know 
what coffee is. And cigarettes. Well, chi- 
bouks, then — * hubble-bubbles ' — if that's what 
you call tkem." 

But the slave clearly did not understand, 
and it suddenly struck Horace that, since to- 
bacco and coffee were not introduced, even into 
the East, till long after the Jinnee's time, he, 
as the founder of the feast, would naturally 
be unaware how indispensable they had become 
at the present day. 

" I'm really awfully sorry," he said, " but 



•*PERSICOS ODI, PUBR, APPARATUS" 145 

they don't seem to have provided any. I shall 
speak to the manager about it. And unfor- 
tunately I don't know where my own cigars 
are." 

" It's of no consequence/' said the profess- 
or, with the sort of stoicism that minds very 
much. ^' I am a moderate smoker at best, and 
Turkish coffee, though delicious, is apt to keep 
me awake. But if you could let me have a 
look at that brass bottle you got at poor CoUing- 
ham's sale, I should be obliged to you." 

Horace had no idea where it was then, nor 
could he, until the professor came to the rescue 
with a few words of Arabic, manage to make 
the slaves comprehend what he wished them to 
find. At length, however, two of them ap- 
peared, bearing the brass bottle with every 
sign of awe, and depositing it at Ventimore's 
feet. 

Professor Futvoye, after wiping and adjust- 
ing his glasses, proceeded to examine the vessel. 
" It certainly is a most unusual type of brass- 
ware," he said, " as unique in its way as the 
silver ewer and basin, and, as you thought, 
there does seem to be something resembling an 
inscription on the cap, though in this dim light 
it is almost impossible to be sure." 

While he was poring over it, Horace seated 



146 THE BRASS BOTTLB 

himself on the divan by Sylvia's side, hoping 
for one of the whispered conversations per- 
mitted to affianced lovers; he had pulled 
through the banquet somehow, and, on the 
whole, he felt thankful things had not gone off 
worse; the noiseless and uncanny attendants, 
whom he did not know whether to regard as 
Efreets, or demons, or simply illusions, but 
whose services he had no wish to retain, had 
all withdrawn. Mrs. Futvoye was peacefully 
slumbering, and her husband was in a better 
humour than he had been all the evening. 

Suddenly from behind the hangings of one 
of the archways came strange discordant 
sounds, barbaric j anglings and thumpings, 
varied by yowls as of impassioned cats. 

Sylvia drew involuntarily closer to Horace; 
her mother woke with a start, and the professor 
looked up from the brass bottle with returning 
irritation. 

" What's this? What's . this? " he de- 
manded. " Some fresh surprise in store for 
us?" 

It was quite as much of a surprise for Hor- 
ace, but he was spared the humiliation of own- 
ing it by the entrance of some half dozen 
dusky musicians swathed in white, and carrying 
various strangely fashioned instruments, with 



"PBRSICOS ODl, FUBR. APPARATUS" 147 

which they squatted down in a semi-circle by 
the opposite wall, and began to twang and 
drub and squall with the complacent cacoph- 
ony of an Eastern orchestra. Clearly Fak- 
rash was determined that nothing should be 
wanting to make the entertainment a complete 
success. 

"What a very extraordinary noise!" said 
Mrs. Futvoye. " Surely they can^t mean it 
for music?" 

"Yes, they do," said Horace; "it — ^it^s 
really more harmonious than it sounds — ^you 
have to get accustomed to the — er — ^notation. 
When you do it's rather soothing than other- 
wise." 

" I dare say," said the poor lady. " And do 
they come from the stores, too? " 

" No," said Horace, with a fine assumption 
of candour. "They don't; they come from — 
the Arab encampment at Earl's Court; parties 
and fetes attended, you know. But they play 
here for nothing, they — they want to get their 
name known, you see, very deserving and re- 
spectable set of fellows." 

"My dear Horace," remarked Mrs. Fut- 
voye, "if they expect to get engagements for 
parties and so on, they really ought to try and 
learn a tune of some sort.'* 



148 THE BRASS BOTTLB 

"J understand, Horace," whispered Syl- 
via. " It's very naughty of you to have gone to 
all this trouble and expense (for of course it 
has cost you a lot) just to please us; but, what- 
ever dad may say, I love you all the better for 
doing it." 

And her hand stole softly into his, and he 
felt that he could forgive Fakrash everything 
— even the orchestra. 

But there was something unpleasantly spec- 
tral about their shadowy forms, which showed 
in grotesquely hazy and bulging shapes in the 
imcertain light. Some of them wore immense 
and curious white head-dresses, which gave 
them the appearance of poulticed thumbs, and 
they all went on scraping and twiddling and 
caterwauling, with a doleful monotony that 
Horace felt must be grating on his guests' 
nerves, as it certainly was on his own. 

He did not know how to get rid of them, 
but he sketched a kind of gesture in the air, 
intended to intimate that, while their eflForts 
had afforded the keenest pleasure to the com- 
pany generally, they were unwilling to monopo- 
lize them any longer, and the artists were at 
liberty to retire. 

Perhaps there is no art more liable to mis- 
construction than pantomime; certainly Venti- 



"PERSICOS ODI, PUEE, APPARATUS" I49 

more's efforts in this direction were misunder- 
stood, for the music became wilder, louder, 
more aggressively and abominably out of time, 
and then a worse thing happened. 

For the curtains separated, and, heralded 
by sharp yelps from the performers, a female 
figure floated into the hall and began to dance 
with a slow and sinuous grace. 

Her beauty, though of a pronounced Ori- 
ental type, was unmistakable, even in the sub- 
dued light which fell on her; her diaphanous 
robe indicated a faultless form; her dark tresses 
were braided with sequins; she had the long, 
lustrous eyes, the dusky cheeks artificially 
whitened, and the fixed scarlet smile of the 
Eastern dancing girl of all time. 

And she paced the floor with her twinkling 
feet, writhing and undulating like some beauti- 
ful cobra, while the players worked themselves 
up to yet higher and higher stages of frenzy. 

Ventimore, as he sat there looking help- 
lessly on, felt a return of his resentment against 
the Jinnee. It was really too bad of him; he 
ought, at his age, to have known better. 

Not that there was anything objectionable 
in the performance itself, but still it was not 
the kind of entertainment for such an occasion. 
Horace wished now he had mentioned to Fak- 



150 THB BRASS BOTTLB 

rash who the guests were whom he expected, 
and then perhaps even the Jinnee would have 
exercised more tact in his arrangements. 

''And does this girl come from Earl's 
Court? " inquired Mrs. Futvoye, who was now 
thoroughly awake. 

" Oh, dear, no," said Horace. " I engaged 
her at — at Harrod's — the Entertainment Bu- 
reau. They told me there she was rather good 
— struck out a line of her own, donH you know. 
But perfectly correct; she — she only does this 
to support an invalid aunt." 

These statements were, as he felt even in 
making them, not only gratuitous but utterly 
unconvincing, but he had arrived at that con- 
dition in which a man discovers, with terror, 
the unsuspected amount of mendacity latent in 
his system. 

" I should have thought there were other 
ways of supporting invalid aunts," remarked 
Mrs. Futvoye. " What is this young lady's 
name? " 

" Tinkler," said Horace, on the spur of the 
moment. " Miss Clementine Tinkler." 

" But surely she is a foreigner? " 

" Mademoiselle, I meant. Tinkla — ^with an 
'a,' you know. I believe her mother was of Ara- 
bian extraction, but I really don't know," ex- 



"PERSICOS ODI, PUBR, APPARATUS" 151 

plained Horace, conscious that Sylvia had with- 
drawn her hand from his, and was regarding 
him with covert anxiety. 

" I really miLst put a stop to this! " he 
thought. " You^re getting bored by all this, 
darlingl " he said aloud. « So am I. V\l tell 
them to go." And he rose and held out his 
hand as a sign that the dance should cease. 

It ceased at once; but, to his unspeakable 
horror, the dancer crossed the floor with a swift 
jingling rush, and sank in a gauzy heap at his 
feet, seizing his hand in both hers and cover- 
ing it with kisses, while she murmured speeches 
in some tongue unknown to him. 

"Is this a usual feature in Mademoiselle 
Tinkla's entertainments, may I ask? " said Mrs. 
Futvoye, bristling with not unnatural indigna- 
tion. 

"I really don*t know,*' said the unhappy 
Horace. " I can't make out what she's saying." 

" If I understand her rightly," said the pro- 
fessor, " she is addressing you as the ' light of 
her eyes ' and * the vital spirit of her heart.' " 

" Oh," said Horace, " she's quite mistaken, 
you know. It — ^it's the emotional artist tem- 
perament; they don't mean anything by it. My 
— ^my dear young lady," he added, "you've 
danced most delightfully, and I'm sure we're all 



162 THE BRASS BOTTLB 

most deeply indebted to you, but we wonH de- 
tain you any longer. Professor," he added, as 
she made no offer to rise, " will you kindly ex- 
plain to them in Arabic that I should be obliged 
by their going at once? " 

The professor said a few words, which had 
the desired effect. The girl gave a little scream 
and scudded through the archway, and the mu- 
sicians seized their instruments and scuttled 
after her. 

" I am so sorry," said Horace, whose even- 
ing seemed to him to have been spent chiefly in 
apologies. " It's not at all the kind of enter- 
tainment one would expect from a place like 
Whitele/s." 

" By no means," agreed the professor; " but 
I understood you to say Mademoiselle Tinkla 
was recommended to you by Harrod's? " 

" Very likely, sir," said Horace. " But that 
doesn't affect the case; I shouldn't expect it 
from ttem." 

" Probably they don't know how shamelessly 
that young person conducts herself," said Mrs. 
Futvoye, " and I think it only right that they 
should be told." 

*' I shall complain, of course," said Horace. 
" I shall put it very strongly." 

" A protest would have more weight coming 



"PERSICOS ODI, PUBR, Al^PARATUS" 163 

from a woman/' said Mrs. Futvoye, "and, as 
a shareholder in the company, I shall feel 
bound " 

" No, I wouldn't," said Horace; " in fact 
you mustn't. For, now I come to think of it, 
she didn't come from Harrod's after all, or 
Whiteley's either." 

" Then perhaps you will be good enough to 
inform us where she did come from? " 

" I would if I knew," said Horace, " but I 
don't." 

" What! " cried the professor sharply, " do 
you mean to say you can't account for the exist- 
ence of a dancing girl who — in my daughter's 
presence — kisses your hand and addresses you 
by endearing epithets? " 

" Oriental metaphor," said Horace. " She 
was a little overstrung. Of course if I had any 
idea she would make such a scene as that — 
Sylvia 1 " he broke off, " you don't doubt me? " 

"No, Horace," said Sylvia simply. "I'm 
sure you must have some explanation, only I 
do think it would be better if you gave it." 

" If I told you the truth," said Horace 
slowly, " you would none of you believe me." 

" Then you admit," put in the professor, 
" that hitherto you have not been telling the 
truth?" 



154 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

" Not as invariably as I could have wished," 
Horace confessed. 

" So I suspected. Then, unless you can 
bring yourself to be perfectly candid, you can 
hardly wonder at our asking you to consider 
your engagement as broken off." 

"Broken off 1 " echoed Horace. "Sylvia, 
you won't give me up? You know I wouldn't 
do anything unworthy of youl " 

" Tm certain that you canH have done any- 
thing which would make me love you one bit 
the less if I knew it. So why not be quite open 
with us? " 

" Because, darling," said Horace, " Fm in 
such a fix that it would only make matters 
worse." 

" In that case," said the professor, " and, 
as it is already rather late, perhaps you will 
allow one of your numerous retinue to call a 
four-wheeler." 

Horace clapped his hands, but no one an- 
swered the summons, and he could not find any 
of the slaves in the antechamber. 

" Fm afraid all the servants have left," ho 
explained, and it is to be feared he would have 
added that they were all obliged to return to 
their contractor by eleven — only he caught the 
professor's eye and decided that he had better 



"PBRSICX^S ODI, PUBB, APPARATUS" 165 

refrain. " If you will wait here, I'll go out and 
fetch a cab/' he added. 

" There is no occasion to trouble you," said 
the professor. "My wife and daughter have 
already got their things on, and we will walk 
until we find a cab. Now, Mr. Ventimore, we 
will bid you good-night — and good-bye. For, 
after what has happened, you will, I trust, have 
the good taste to discontinue your visits and 
make no attempt to see Sylvia again." 

" Upon my honour," protested Horace, " I 
have done nothing to warrant you in shutting 
your doors against met " 

" I am unable to agree with you. I have 
never thoroughly approved of your engage- 
ment, because, as I told you at the time, I sus- 
pected you of recklessness in money matters. 
Even in accepting your invitation to-night, I 
warned you, as you may remember, not to make 
the occasion an excuse for foolish extravagance. 
I come here, and find you in apartments fur- 
nished and decorated (as you informed us) by 
yourself, and on a scale which would be prodigal 
in a millionaire. You have a suite of retainers 
which (except for their nationality and imper- 
fect discipline) a prince might envy. You pro- 
vide a banquet of — ^hem — delicacies which must 
have cost you infinite trouble and unlimited 
11 



166 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

expense — this after I had expressly stipulated 
for a quiet family dinner I Not content with 
that, you procure for our diversion Arab music 
and dancing of a — of a highly recondite char- 
acter. I should be unworthy the name of 
father, sir, if I were to intrust my only daugh- 
ter's happiness to a young man with so little 
common sense, so little self-restraint. And she 
will understand my motives and obey my 
wishes." 

" You're right, professor, according to your 
lights," admitted Horace. "And yet — con- 
found it all, you're utterly wrong, tool " 

" Oh, Horace! " cried Sylvia, " if you had 
only listened to dad, and not gone to all this 
foolish, foolish expense, we might have been 
so happy 1 " 

"But I have gone to no expense: all this 
hasn't cost me a penny 1 " 

" Ah, there is some mystery 1 Horace, if 
you love me, you will explain — ^here, now — 
before it's too late! " 

" My darling," groaned Horace, " I would, 
like a shot, if I thought it would be of the least 
use." 

"Hitherto," said the professor, "you can 
not be said to have been happy in your explana- 
tions, and I should advise you not to venture 



"PEBSICOS ODI, PUER^ APPAEATDS" 167 

on any more. Good-night once more. I only 
wish it were possible, without needless irony, 
to make the customary acknowledgments for a 
pleasant evening." 

Mrs. Futvoye had already hurried her 
daughter away, and, though she had left her 
husband to express his sentiments unaided, she 
made it sufficiently clear that she entirely 
agreed with them. 

Horace stood in the outer hall by the 
fountain, in which his drowned chrysanthemimis 
were still floating, and gazed in stupefied despair 
after his guests as they went down the path to 
the gate. He knew only too well that they 
would never cross his threshold, nor he theirs, 
again. 

Suddenly he came to himself with a start. 
" I'll try it," he cried. " I can't and won't 
stand this! " And he rushed after them bare- 
headed. 

"Professorl" he said breathlessly, as he 
caught him up. " One moment. On second 
thoughts I will tell you. my secret, if you will 
promise me a patient hearing." 

" The pavement is hardly the place for con- 
fidences," replied the professor, " and, if it 
were, your costume is calculated to attract more 
remark than is desirable. My wife and daugh- 



158 THB BRASS BOTTLE 

ter have gone on; if you'll permit me, I will 
overtake them. I shall be at home to-morrow 
morning, should you wish to see me." 

"No, to-night, to-night 1" urged Horace. 
" I can't sleep in that infernal place with this 
on my mind. Put Mrs. Futvoye and Sylvia 
into a cab, professor, and come back. It's not 
late, and I won't keep you long, but for 
Heaven's sake let me tell you my story at 
oncel " 

Probably the professor was not without 
some curiosity on the subject; at all events he 
yielded. 

" Very well," he said, " go into the house 
and I will rejoin you presently. Only remem- 
ber," he added, " that I shall accept no state- 
ment without the fullest proof. Otherwise you 
will merely be wasting your time and mine." 

" Proof! " thought Horace gloomily, as he 
returned to his Arabian halls. "The only 
decent proof I could produce would be old Fak- 
rash, and he's not likely to turn up again, 
especially now I want himl " 

A little later the professor returned, having 
found a cab and despatched his women folk 
home. " Now, young man," he said, as he un- 
wound his wrapper and seated himself on the 
divan by Horace's side, " I can give you just 



"PEBSICOS ODI, PUBE, APPARATUS" 169 

ten minutes to tell your story in, so let me beg 
you to make it as brief and as comprehensible 
as you can/* 

It was not exactly an encouraging invita- 
tion in the circumstances, but Horace took his 
courage in both hands and told him everything, 
just as it had happened. 

"And that's your story? '' said the pro- 
fessor, after listening to the narrative with the 
utmost attention, when Horace came to the end. 

" That's my story, sir,'' said Horace, " and 
I hope it has altered your opinion of me." 

" It has," replied the professor, in an altered 
tone. " It has, indeed. Tours is a sad case— 
a very sad case." 

" It's rather awkward, isn't it? But I don't 
mind so long as you understand. And you'll 
tell Sylvia — as much as you thinL proper? " 

" Yes, yes, I must tell Sylvia." 

" And I may go on seeing her as usual? " 

" Well — will you be guided by my advice — 
the advice of one who has lived more than 
double your years? " 

" Certainly," said Horace. 

** Then, if I were you, I should go away at 
once, for a complete change of air and scene." 

"That's impossible, sir. You forget my 
work! " 



160 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

" Never mmd your work, my boy — leave it 
for a while; try a sea voyage, go round the 
world, get quite away from these associations." 

"But I might come apross the Jinnee 
again," objected Horace. " He^s travelling, as 
I told you." 

"Yes, yes, to be sure. Still, I should go 
away. Consult any doctor and he'll tell you 
the same thing." 

"Consult any — Good Godl " cried Hor- 
ace, " I see what it is — ^you think I'm madl " 

" No, no, my dear boy," said the professor 
soothingly, "not mad — ^nothing of the sort — 
perhaps your mental equilibrium is just a trifle 
— it's quite intelligible. You see, the sudden 
turn in your professional prospects, coupled 
with your engagement to Sylvia — I've known 
stronger minds than yours thrown off their 
balance — temporarily, of course, quite tempo- 
rarily — by less than that." 

"You believe I am suffering from delu- 
sions?" 

"I don't say that. I think you may see 
ordinary things in a distorted light." 

" Anyhow, you don't believe there really 
was a Jinnee inside that bottle? " 

"Remember, you yourself assured me at 
the time you opened it that you found nothing 



"PBBSICOS ODI, PUBB, APPARATUS" 161 

whatever inside it. Isn't it more credible that 
you were right then than that you should be 
right now? " 

"Well," said Horace, "you saw all those 
black slaves, you ate, or tried to eat, that un- 
utterably beastly banquet, you heard that music 
— and then there was the dancing girL And 
this very hall we're in, the robe IVe got on — 
are they delusions? Because, if they are, I'm 
afraid you will have to admit that youWe mad, 
too." 

" Ingeniously put," 6aid the professor. " I 
fear it is unwise to argue with you. Still I will 
venture to assert that a strong imagination like 
yours, overheated and saturated with Oriental 
ideas — ^to which I fear I may have contributed 
— is not incapable of unconsciously assisting in 
its own deception. In other words, I think that 
you may have provided all this yourself from 
various quarters without any clear recollection 
of the fact." 

"That's very scientific and satisfactory as 
far as it goes, my dear professor," said Horace, 
" but there's one piece of evidence which may 
upset your theory, and that's this brass bottle." 

" If your reasoning powers were in their 
normal condition," said the professor compas- 
sionately, "you would see that the mere pro- 



162 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

duction of an empty bottle can be no proof of 
what it contained — op, for that matter, that 
it ever contained anything at alL'' 

" Oh, I see fAaf," said Horace; " but this 
bottle has a stopper with what yon yourself ad- 
mit to be an inscription of some sort. Suppose 
that inscription confirms my story — ^what then? 
All I ask you to do is to make it out for your- 
self before you decide that Pm either a liar or 
a lunatic." 

" I warn you," said the professor, " that if 
you are trusting to my being unable to de- 
cipher the inscription you are deceiving your- 
self. You represent that this bottle belongs 
to the period of Solomon — that is, about a thou- 
sand years before Christ. Probably you are not 
aware that the earliest specimens of Oriental 
metal work in existence are not older than the 
tenth century of our era. But, granting that it 
is as old as you allege, I shall certainly be able 
to read any inscription there may be on it. I 
have made out clay tablets in Cuneiform which 
were certainly written a thousand years before 
Solomon's time." 

" So much the better," said Horace. " I'm 
as certain as I can be that whatever is written 
on that lid, whether it's PhoBuician or Cunei- 
form, or anything else, must have some refer- 



"PBRSIOOS ODI, PUBB, APPARATUS" 163 

ence to a Jinnee confined in the bottle, or at 
least bear the seal of Solomon. But there the 
thing is — examine it for yourself." 

" Not now," said the professor. " It's too 
late, and the light here is not strong enough. 
But I tell you what I will do. Til take this 
stopper thing home with me and examine it 
carefully to-morrow — on one condition." 

" You have only to name it," said Horace. 

^^ My condition is that if I, and one or two 
other Orientalists to whom I may submit it, 
agree with me that there is no real inscription 
at all, or, if any, that a date and meaning must 
be assigned to it totally inconsistent with your 
story, you will accept our finding and acknowl- 
edge that you have been under a delusion, and 
dismiss the whole affair from your mind." 

" Oh, I don't mind agreeing to f&af," said 
Horace, " particularly as it's my only chance." 

"Very well, then," said the professor, as 
he removed the metal cap and put it in his 
pocket, "you may depend upon hearing from 
me in a day or two. Meantime, my boy," he 
continued, almost affectionately, " why not try 
a short bicycle tour somewhere — ^hey? You're 
a cyclist, I know. Anything but allow your- 
self to dwell on Oriental subjects." 

" It's not so easy to avoid dwelling on them 



164 THE BBASS BOTTLE 

as you think," said Horace, with rather a 
dreary laugh. " And I fancy, professor, that — 
whether you like it or not — ^you'll have to be- 
lieve in that Jinnee of mine sooner or later." 

" I can scarcely conceive," replied the pro- 
fessor, who was by this time at the outer door, 
" any degree of evidence which could succeed 
in convincing me that your brass bottle had ever 
contained an Arabian Jinnee. However, I shall 
endeavour to preserve an open mind on the sub- 
ject. Gkxxi evening to you." 

As soon as he was alone, Horace paced up 
and down his deserted halls in a state of sim- 
mering rage as he thought how eagerly he had 
looked forward to his little dinner party, how 
intimate and delightful it might have been, 
and what a monstrous and prolonged nightmare 
it had actually proved. And at the end of it 
there he was — in a fantastic impossible dwell- 
ing, deserted by every one, his chances of setting 
himself right with Sylvia hanging on the slen- 
derest thread, unknown difficulties and compli- 
cations threatening him from every side! 

He owed all this to Fakrash. Yes, that in- 
corrigibly grateful Jinnee, with his antiquated 
notions and his high-flown professions, had con- 
trived to ruin him more disastrously than if he 
had been his bitterest foe. Ah! if he could be 



"PBRSICOS ODI, PUBE, APPABATUS"^ 166 

face to face with him once more, if only for 
five minutes, he would be restrained by no false 
delicacy, he would tell him fairly and plainly 
what a meddling, blundering old fool he was. 
But Fakrash had taken his flight forever; there 
were no means of calling him back, nothing 
to be done now but go to bed — and sleep if he 
could! 

Exasperated by the sense of his utter help- 
lessness, Ventimore went to the arch which led 
to his bedchamber and drew the curtain back 
with a furious pulL And just within the arch- 
way, standing erect with folded arms and the 
smile of fatuous benignity which Ventimore was 
beginning to know and dread, was the form of 
Fakrash-el-Aamash, the Jinnee. 



CHAPTER X 

NO PLACE LIKE HOME 

"May thy head long survive 1 " said Fak- 
rash, by way of salutation, as he stepped 
through the archway. 

"You're very good/* said Horace, whose 
anger had almost evaporated in the relief of 
the Jinnee's unexpected return. " But I don't 
think any head can survive this sort of thing 
long." 

" Art thou content with this dwelling I have 
provided for thee? " inquired the Jinnee, glanc- 
ing around the stately hall with perceptible 
complacency. 

It would have been positively brutal to say 
how very far from contented he felt, so Horace 
could only mumble that he had never been 
lodged like that before in all his life. 

" It is far below thy deserts," Fakrash ob- 
served graciously. " And were thy friends 
amazed at the manner of their entertainment? " 

" They were," said Horace. 
166 



NO PLAGE LIKB HOME 167 

"A sure method of preserving friends is 
to feast them with liberality," remarked the 
Jinnee. 

This was rather more than Horace's temper 
could stand. " You were kind enough to pro- 
vide my friends with such a feast," he said, 
" that they'll never come here again." 

" How sot Were not the meats choice and 
abounding in fatness? Was not the wine sweet, 
and the sherbet like unto perfumed snow? " 

" Oh, everything was — er — as nice as pos- 
sible," said Horace. " Couldn't have been 
better 1 " 

" Yet thou sayest that thy friends will re- 
turn no more. For what reason? " 

"Well, you see," explained Horace reluc- 
tantly, " there's such a thing as doing people 
too well. I mean, it isn't everybody that appre- 
ciates Arabian cooking. But they might have 
stood that; it was the dancing girl that did for 
me." 

" I commanded that a houri, lovelier than 
the full moon and graceful as a young gazelle, 
should appear for the delight of thy guests." 

" Well," said Horace gloomily, " she came." 

^* Acquaint me with that which hath oc- 
curred, for I perceive plainly that something 
hath fallen out contrary to thy desires." 



168 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

" Well," said Horace again, " if it had been 
a bachelor party there would have been no 
harm in the houri; but, as it happened, two of 
my guests were ladies, and they — ^well, they not 
unnaturally put a wrong construction on it all/* 

"Verily," exclaimed the Jinnee, "thy 
words are totally incomprehensible to mel " 

" I don't know what the custom may be in 
Arabia," said Horace, "but with us it is not 
usual for a man to engage a houri to dance after 
dinner to amuse the lady he is proposing to 
marry. It's the kind of attention she'd be most 
unlikely to appreciate." 

" Then was one of thy guests the damsel 
whom thou art seeking to marry? " 

" She was," said Horace, " and the other 
two were her father and mother. From which 
you may imagine that it was not altogether 
agreeable for me when your gazelle threw her- 
self at my feet and hugged my knees and de- 
clared that I was the light of her eyes. Of 
course it all meant nothing — ^it's probably the 
conventional behaviour for a gazelle — and I'm 
not reflecting upon her in the least. But, in 
the circumstances, it was compromising." 

" I thought," said Fakrash, " that thou as- 
suredst me that thou wast not contracted to 
any damsel?" 



NO PLAGE LIKE HOME 169 

" I think I only said that there was no one 
whom I would trouble you to procure as a wife 
for me," replied Horace. " I certainly was en- 
gaged — though, after this evening, my engage- 
ment is at an end — unless . . . that reminds 
me, do you happen to know whether there really 
was an inscription on the seal of your bottle, 
and what it said? " 

"I know naught of any inscription," said 
the Jinnee. " Bring me the seal, that I may 
see it." 

" I havenH got it by me at this moment," 
said Horace. " I lent it to my friend — the 
father of this young lady I told you of. You 
see, Mr. Fakrash, you got me into — I mean I 
was in such a hole over this affair that I was 
obliged to make a clean breast of it to him. 
And he wouldn't believe it, so it struck me 
that there might be an inscription of some sort 
on the seal saying who you were, and why Solo- 
mon had you confined in the bottle. Then the 
professor would be obliged to admit that there's 
something in my story." 

" Truly I wonder at thee and at the small- 
ness of thy penetration," the Jinnee com- 
mented, " for if there were indeed any writing 
upon this seal it is not possible that one of thy 
race should be able to decipher it." 



170 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

" Oh, I beg your pardon," said Horace. 
" Professor Futvoye is an Oriental scholar; he 
can make out any inscription, no matter how 
many thousands of years old it may be. K any- 
thing's there, he'll decipher it. The question is 
whether anything i8 there." 

The effect of this speech on Fakrash was as 
unexpected as it was inexplicable; the Jinnee's 
features, usually so mild, began to work con- 
vulsively until they became terrible to look at, 
and suddenly, with a fierce howl, he shot up to 
nearly double his ordinary stature. 

" O thou of little sense and breeding 1 " he 
cried, in a loud voice. " How camest thou to 
deliver the bottle in which I was confined into 
the hands of this learned man? " 

Yentimore, startled as he was, did not lose 
his self-possession. ^' My dear sir," he said, ^^ I 
did not suppose you could have any further 
use for it. And, as a matter of fact, I didn't 
give Professor Futvoye the bottle — ^which is 
over there in the comer — ^but merely the 
stopper. I wish you wouldn't tower over me 
like that — ^it gives me a crick in the neck to 
talk to you. Why on earth should you make 
such a fuss about my lending the seal — ^what 
possible difference can it make to you even if 
it does confirm my story? And it's of immense 



NO PLACE LIKE HOME 171 

importance to me that the professor should be- 
lieve I told the truth! '' 

" I spoke in haste," said the Jinnee, slowly 
resuming his normal size, and looking slightly 
ashamed of his recent outburst as well as un- 
commonly foolish. " The bottle truly is of no 
value, and as for the stopper, since it is but 
lent it is no great matter. If there be any 
legend upon the seal, perchance this learned 
man of whom thou speakest will by this time 
have deciphered it? " 

" No," said Horace, " he wonH tackle it till 
to-morrow. And it's as likely as not that when 
he does he won't find any reference to you^ and 
I shall be up a taller tree than ever." 

" Art thou so desirous that he should receive 
proof that thy story is true? " 

"Why, of course I am! Haven't I been 
saying so all this time? " 

" Who can satisfy him so surely as I? " 

" You I " cried Horace. " Do you mean to 
say you really would? Mr. Fakrash, you are 
an old brick I That would be the very thing! " 

" There is naught," said the Jinnee, smiling 
indulgently, " that I would not do to promote 
thy welfare, for thou hast rendered me ines- 
timable service* Acquaint me, therefore, with 
the abode of this sage, and I will present my- 
13 



172 THE BRASS BOTTLB 

self before him, and if haply he should find no 
inscription upon the seal^ or its purport should 
be hidden from him^ then will I convince 
him that thou hast spoken the truth, and no 
lie." 

Horace very willingly gave him the profess- 
or's address. " Only don't drop in on him to- 
nighty you know/' he thought it prudent to 
add, ^^ or you might startle him. Call any time 
after breakfast to-morrow, and you'll find him 
in." 

" To-night," said Fakrash, " I return to pur- 
sue my search after Suleyman — on whom be 
peace I For not yet have I found him." 

" If you wiU try to do so many things at 
once," said Horace, " I don't see how you can 
expect much results." 

**At Nineveh they knew him not, for 
where I left a ciiy I found but a heap of ruins, 
tenanted by owls and bats." 

^^ ' They say the lion and the lizard Jceep 
the courts where — ' " murmured Horace, half 
to himself. "I was afraid you might be dis- 
appointed with Nineveh myself. Why not 
run over to Sheba? You might hear of him 
there." 

"Seba of El -Yemen, the country of 
Bilkees, the queen beloved of Suleyman," said 



NO PLACE LIKE HOME 173 

the Jinnee* ^^ It is an excellent suggestion, 
and I will follow it without delay." 

" But you won^t forget to look in on Pro- 
fessor Futvoye to-morrow, will you? " 

"Absuredly I will not. And now, ere I 
depart, tell me if there be any other service 
I may render thee." 

Horace hesitated. " There w just one," he 
said, " only Fm afraid you'll be offended if I 
mention it." 

" On the head and the eye be thy com- 
mands," said the Jinnee; " for whatsoever thou 
desirest shall be accomplished, provided that it 
lie within my power to perform it." 

" Well," said Horace, " if you're sure you 
don't mind, I'll tell you. You've transformed 
this house into a wonderful place, more like the 
Alhambra — ^I don't mean the one in Leicester 
Square — -than a London lodging-house. But 
then I am only a lodger here, and the people 
the house belongs to — excellent people, in their 
way — ^would very much rather have the house 
as it was. They have a sort of idea that they 
won't be able to let these rooms as easily as the 
others." 

^' Base and sordid dogs! " said the Jinnee, 
with contempt. 

"Possibly," said Horace, "it's narrow- 



174 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

minded of them, but that's the way they look 
at it. They've actually left rather than stay 
here. And it's their house — ^not minel " 

" If they abandon this dwelling, thou wilt 
remain in the more secure possession." 

'' Oh, shall I, though? They'll go to law 
and have me turned out, and I shall have to pay 
ruinous damages into the bargain. So you see, 
what you intended as a kindness will only bring 
me bad luck." 

" Come — ^without more words — to the state- 
ment of thy request," said Fakrash, " for I am 
in haste." 

" All I want you to do," replied Horace, in 
some anxiety as to what the effect of his request 
would be, " is to put everything here back to 
what it was before. It won't take you a min- 
ute." 

" Of a truth," exclaimed Fakrash, " to be- 
stow a favour upon thee is but a thankless 
undertaking, for not once, but twice, hast thou 
rejected my benefits; and now, behold, I am 
at a loss to devise means to gratify thee! " 

" I know I've abused your good nature," 
said Horace, "but if you'll only do this, and 
then convince the professor that my story is 
true, I shall be more than satisfied. I'll never 
ask another favour of you." 



NO PLACE LIKE HOME 175 

" My benevolence toward thee hath no 
bounds, as thou shalt see, and I can deny thee 
nothing, for truly thou art a worthy and tem- 
perate young man. Farewell, then, and be it 
according to thy desire." 

He raised his arms above his head, and shot 
up like a rocket toward the lofty dome, which 
split asunder to let him pass. Horace, as he 
gazed after him, had a momentary glimpse of 
deep blue sky, with a star or two that seemed 
to be hurrying through the transparent opal 
scud, before the roof closed in once more. 

Then came a low rumbling sound, with a 
shock like a mild earthquake; the slender pillars 
swayed under their horsenahoe arches; the big 
hanging lanterns went out; the walls narrowed, 
and the floor heaved and rose — till Ventimore 
found himself up in his own familiar sitting- 
room once more, in the dark. Outside he could 
see the great square still shrouded in gray haze; 
the street lamps were flickering in the wind; 
a belated reveller was enlivening his homeward 
journey by rattling his stick against the railings 
as he passed. Inside the room everything was 
exactly as before, and Horace found it diffi- 
cult to believe that a few minutes earlier he 
had been standing on that same site, but twenty 
feet or so below his present level, in a spacious 



176 THE BRASS BOTTLB 

blue-tiled hall with a domed ceiling and gaudy 
pillared arches. 

But he was very far from regretting his 
short-lived splendour; he burned with shame 
and resentment whenever he thought of that 
nightmare banquet, which was so unlike the 
quiet, unpretentious little dinner he had looked 
forward to. 

However, it was over now, and it was useless 
to worry himself about what could not be 
helped. Besides, fortunately, there was no 
great harm done; the Jinnee had been brought 
to see his mistake, and, to do him justice, had 
shown himself willing enough to put it right. 
He had promised to go and see the professor 
next day, and the result of the interview could 
not fail to be satisfactory. And after this, 
Ventimore thought, Fakrash would have the 
sense and good feeling not to interfere in his 
affairs again. 

Meanwhile, he could sleep now with a mind 
free from his worst anxieties, and he went to 
his room in a spirit of intense thankfulness that 
he had a Christian bed to sleep in. He took off 
his gorgeous robes — the only things that re- 
mained to prove to him that the events of that 
evening had been no delusion — and locked them 
in his wardrobe with a sense of relief that he 



NO PLACE LIKE HOM£ 177 

would never be required to wear them again, 
and hifl last conscious thought before he fell 
asleep was the comforting reflection that, if 
there were any barrier between Sylvia and him- 
self, it would be removed in the course of a 
very few more hours. 



CHAPTER XI 
A fool's paradise 

Ybntimobb found next morning that his 
bath and shaving water had been brought up, 
from which he inferred, quite correctly, that 
his landlady must have returned. 

Secretly he was by no means looking for- 
ward to his next interview with her, but she ap- 
peared with his bacon and coffee in a spirit so 
evidently chastened that he saw he would have 
no difficulty so far as she was concerned. 

" Fm sure, Mr. Ventimore, sir," she began 
apologetically, " I don't know what you must 
have thought of me and Rapkin last night, leav- 
ing the house like we did." 

" It was extremely inconvenient," said Hor- 
ace, " and not at all what I should have ex- 
pected from you. But possibly you had some 
reason for it? " 

" Why, sir," said Mrs. Rapkin, running her 
hand nervously along the back of a chair, " the 
fact is something come over mc, and come over 
178 



A POOL'S PARADISE 179 

Eapkin, as we couldnH stop here another min- 
ute, not if it was ever so/^ 

" Ahl " said Horace, raising his eyebrows, 
" restlessness, eh, lilrs. Eapkin? Awkward that 
it should come on just then, though, wasn't it? " 

" It was the look of the place, somehow," 
said Mrs. Rapkin. " If you'll believe me, sir, 
it was all changed like — ^nothink in it the same 
from top to bottom 1 " 

" Really? " said Horace. " I don't notice 
any difference myself." 

"No more don't I, sir, not by daylight; 
but last night it was all domes and harches and 
marble fountings let into the floor, with parties 
moving about downstairs all silent, and as black 
as your hat — ^which Rapkin saw them as well 
as what I did." 

" From the state your husband was in last 
night," said Horace, " I should say he was capa- 
ble of seeing anything — and double of most 
things." 

"I won't deny, sir, that Rapkin mayn't 
have been quite hisself, as a very little upsets 
him after he's spent an afternoon studying the 
papers and what not at the libery. But I see 
the niggers, too, Mr. Ventimore, and no one 
can say I ever take more than is good for me." 

" I don't suggest that for a moment, Mrs. 



180 THE BRASS BOTTLB 

Rapkin/' said Horace; " only, if the house was 
as you describe last night, how do you account 
for its being all right this morning? '' 

Mrs. Eapkin, in her embarrassment, was re- 
duced to folding her apron into small plaits. 
" It's not for me to say, sir," she replied, " but, 
if I was to give an opinion, it would be as them 
parties as called 'ere on camels the other day 
was at the bottom of it." 

" I shouldn't wonder if you were right, Mrs. 
Rapkin," said Horace blandly. " You see, you 
had been exerting yourself over the cooking, 
and no doubt were in an overexcited state, and, 
as you say, those camels had taken hold of 
your imagination until you were ready to see 
anything that Rapkin saw — and he was ready 
to see anything you did. It's not at all uncom- 
mon. Scientific people, I believe, call it 'col- 
lective hallucination.' " 

"Law, sir! " said the good woman, consid- 
erably impressed by this diagnosis. " You don't 
mean to say I had that! I was always fanciful 
from a girl, and could see things in coffee 
grounds as nobody else could, but I never was 
took like that before. And to think of me leav- 
ing my dinner half cooked, and you expecting 
your young lady and her pa and ma — ^well, there 
now, I am sorry. Whatever did you do, sir? '* 



A FOOL'S PAEuADISB 181 

"We managed to get food of sorts from 
somewhere," said Horace, " but it was most mi- 
comfortable for me, and I trust, Mrs. Rapkin, 
I sincerely trust that it will not occur again." 

" That I'll answer for it shan't, sir. And 
you won't take no notice to Rapkin, sir, will 
you} Though it was his seein' the niggers and 
that as put it into my 'ead, but I 'ave spoke to 
him pretty severe already, and he's truly sorry 
and ashamed for forgetting hisself as he did." 

"Very well, Mrs. Rapkin," said Horace, 
" we will understand that last night's — ^hem — 
rather painful experience is not to be alluded 
to again — on either side." 

He felt sincerely thankful to have got out 
of it so easily, for it was impossible to say what 
gossip might not have been set on foot if the 
Rapkins had not been brought to see the advisa- 
bility of reticence on the subject. 

" There's one more thing, sir, I wished for 
to speak to you about," said Mrs. Rapkin, " that 
great brass vawse as you brought at an oction 
some time back. I dunno if you remember it? " 

"I remember it," said Horace. "Well, 
what about it? " 

" Why, sir, I found it in the coal cellar this 
morning, and I thought I'd ask if that was 
where you wished it kep' in future. For, 



182 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

though no amount of polish could make it what 
I call a tasty thing, it's neither homimental nor 
yet useful where it is at present." 

" Oh/' said Horace, rather relieved, for he 
had had an ill-defined dread, from her opening 
words, that the bottle might have been misbe- 
having itself in some way. " Put it wherever 
you please, Mrs. Eapkin; do whatever you like 
with it, so long as I don't see the thing again." 

" Very good, sir. I on'y thought I'd ask the 
question," said Mrs. Rapkin, as she closed the 
door upon herself. 

Altogether, Horace walked to Great 
Cloister Street that morning in a fairly cheer- 
ful mood, and amiably disposed, even toward 
the Jinnee. With all his many faults, he was 
a thoroughly good-natured old devil, very supe- 
rior in every way to the one the Arabian Nights' 
Fisherman found in his bottle. 

" Ninety - nine Jinn out of a hundred," 
thought Horace, " would have turned nasty on 
finding benefit after benefit ^ declined, with 
thanks.' But one good point in Fakrash is that 
he does take a hint in good part, and, as soon 
as he can be made to see where he's wrong, 
he's always ready to set things right. And he 
thoroughly understands now that these Oriental 
dodges of his won't do nowadays, and that 



A FOOL'S PARADISE 183 

when people see a penniless man suddenly wal- 
lowing in riches they naturally want to know 
how he came by them. I don't suppose he will 
trouble me much in future. If he should look 
in now and then, I must put up with it. Per- 
haps, if I suggested it, he wouldn't mind coming 
in some form that would look less outlandish. K 
he could get himself up as a banker, or a bishop 
— the bishop of Baghdad, say — I shouldn't 
care how often he called. Only I can't have 
him coming down the chimney in either ca- 
pacity. But he'll see that himself. And he's 
done me one real service; I mustn't let myself 
forget that. He sent me old Wackerbath. By 
the way, I wonder if he's seen my designs yet, 
and what he thinks of them." 

He was at his table, engaged in jotting down 
some rough ideas for the decoration of the re* 
ception rooms in the projected house, when 
Beevor came in. 

" I've got nothing doing just now," he said, 
" so I thought I'd come in and have a squint at 
those plans of yours, if they're forward enough 
to be seen yet." 

Ventimore had to explain that even the im- 
perfect method of examination proposed was 
not possible, as he had despatched the draw- 
ings to his client the night before. 



184 THE BRASS BOTTLB 

" Phew! " said Beevor, " that's sharp work, 
isn't it? " 

" I don't know. Fve been sticking hard at 
it for over a fortnight." 

" Well, you might have given me a chance 
of seeing what you have made of it. I let you 
see all my work." 

"To tell you the honest truth, old fel- 
low, I wasn't at all sure you'd like it, and I 
was afraid you'd put me out of conceit with 
what I'd done, and Wackerbath was in a 
frantic hurry to have the plans; so there it 
was." 

" And do you think he'll be satisfied with 
them? " 

'^ He ought to be. I don't like to be cock- 
sure, but I believe, I really do believe, that I've 
given him rather more than he expected. It's 
going to be a devilish good house, though I say 
it myself." 

" Something new-fangled and fantastic, eh? 
Well, he mayn't care about it, you know. 
When you've had my experience, you'll realize 
that a client is a rum bird to satisfy." 

" I shall satisfy my old bird," said Horace 
gaily. "He'll have a cage he can hop about 
in to his heart's content." 

"You're a clever chap enough," said Bee- 



A FOOL'S PARADISE 185 

vor, " but to carry a big job like this through 
you want one thing, and that's ballast'' 

"Not while you heave yours at my head. 
Come, old fellow, you aren't really riled be- 
cause I sent off those plans without showing 
them to you? I shall soon have them batsk, 
and then you can pitch into 'em as much as you 
please. Seriously, though, I shall want all the 
help you can spare when I come to the com- 
pleted designs." 

".Um," said Beevor, "you've got along 
very well alone so far — at least by your own 
account — so I dare say you'll be able to manage 
without me to the end. Only, you know," he 
added, as he left the room, " you haven't won 
your spurs yet. A fellow isn't necessarily a 
Gilbert Scott, or a Norman Shaw, or a Water- 
house, just because he happens to get a sixty- 
thousand-pound job the first go off I " 

"Poor old Beevor I " thought Horace re- 
pentantly. " I've put his back up. I might just 
as well have shown him the plans, after all; it 
wouldn't have hurt me, and it would have 
pleased him. Never mind, I'll make my peace 
with him after lunch. I'll ask him to give me 
his idea for a — No, hang it all, even friend- 
ship has its limits." 

He returned from lunch, to hear what 



186 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

sounded like an altercation of some sort in his 
office, in which, as he neared his door, Beevor's 
voice was distinctly audible* 

" My dear sir," he was saying, " I have 

already told you that it is no aflFair of mine." 

* " But I ask you, sir, as a brother architect," 

said another voice, "whether you consider it 

professional or reasonable " 

^* As a brother architect," replied Beevor, 
as Ventimore opened the door, " I would rather 
be excused from giving an opinion. • » • Ahj 
here is Mr. Ventimore himself." 

Horace entered, to find himself confronted 
by Mr. Wackerbath, whose face was purple and 
whose white whiskers were bristling with rage. 
" So, sirl " he began. " So, sir! " and choked 
ignominiously. " There appears to have been 
some misunderstanding, my dear Ventimore," 
explained Beevor, with a studious correctness 
which was only a shade less offensive than open 
triumph. " I think Pd better leave you and 
this gentleman to talk it over quietly." 

" Quietly! " exclaimed Mr. Wackerbath, 
with an apoplectic snort. " Quietly! " 

" I've no idea what you are so excited about, 
sir," said Horace. "Perhaps you will ex- 
plain." 

"Explain!" Mr. Wackerbath gasped. 



A FOOL'S PARADISE 187 

" Why, . . . No, if I speak just now I shall be 
ill. You tell him," he added, waving a plmnp 
hand in Beevor's direction. 

^' Fm not in possession of all the facts," said 
Beevor smoothly, " but, so far as I can gather, 
this gentleman thinks that, considering the im- 
portance of the work he intrusted to your hands, 
you have given less time to it than he might 
have expected. As I have told him, that is a 
matter which does not concern me, and which 
he must discuss with you." 

So saying, Beevor retired to his own room, 
and shut the door with the same irreproachable 
discretion, which conveyed that he was not in 
the least surprised, but was too much of a gen- 
tleman to show it. 

" Well, Mr. Wackerbath," began Horace 
when they were alone, " so you^re disappointed 
with the house?" 

" Disappointed! " said Mr. Wackerbath 
furiously. ^^ I am disgusted, sir; disgusted! " 

Horace's heart sank lower still; had he de- 
ceived himself after all, then? Had he been 
nothing but a conceited fool, and — ^most gall- 
ing thought of all — ^had Beevor judged him 
only too acurately? And yet no, he could not 
believe it; he Tcn&w his work was good. 

" This is plain speaking with a vengeance," 

18 



188 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

he said. " I'm sorry you're dissatisfied. I did 
my best to carry out your instructions." 

" Oh, you did? " sputtered Mr. Wackerbath. 
" That's what you call — But go on, sir; go 
onl" 

" I got it done as quickly as possible," con- 
tinued Horace, " because I understood you 
wished no time to be lost." 

" No one can accuse you of dawdling over 
it. What I should like to know is how the devil 
you managed to get it done in the time." 

" I worked incessantly all day and every 
day," said Horace. *^ That's how I managed 
it, and this is all the thanks I get for it." 

" Thanks 1" Mr. Wackerbath well-nigh 
howled. " You — ^you insolent young charlatan, 
you expect thanks! " 

" Now, look here, Mr. Wackerbath," said 
Horace, whose own temper was getting a little 
frayed, " I'm not accustomed to being treated 
like this, and I don't intend to submit to it. 
Just tell me, in as moderate language as you 
can command, what you object to." 

" I object to the whole damned thing, sir. 
I mean, I repudiate the entire concern. It's 
the work of a raving lunatic — a place that no 
English gentleman, sir, with any self-respect or 
— ah — consideration for his reputation and posi- 



A FOOL'S PARADISE 189 

tion in the county, could consent to occupy for 
a single hour/' 

"Oh!" said Horace, feeling deathly sick, 
" in that case it is useless, of course, to suggest 
any modifications." 

" Absolutely," said Mr. Wackerbath. 

" Very well, then, there's no more to be 
said," replied Horace. " You will have no dif- 
ficulty in finding another architect who will be 
more successful in realizing your intentions. 
Mr. Beevor, the gentleman you met just now," 
he added, with a touch of bitterness, " would 
probably be just your man. Of course, I retire 
altogether. And really, if any one is the suf- 
ferer over this, I fancy it's myself. I can't see 
how you are any the worse." 

" Not any the worse," cried Mr. Wacker- 
bath, " when the infernal place is built! " 

" Built! " echoed Horace feebly. 

" I tell you, sir, I saw it with my own eyes, 
driving to the station this morning; my coach- 
man and footman saw it; my wife saw it. Danm 
it, sir, we all saw it! " 

Then Horace understood. His indefatiga- 
ble Jinnee had been at work again! Of course, 
for Fakrash it must have been what he would 
term " the easiest of affairs " — especially after 
a glance at the plans (and Ventimore remem- 



190 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

bered that the Jinnee had surprised him at 
work upon them, and even requested to have 
them explained to him) — to dispense with con- 
tractors and bricklayers and carpenters, and con- 
struct the entire building in the course of a 
single night. 

It was a generous and spirited action; but, 
particularly now that the original designs had 
been faulty and rejected, it placed the unfor- 
tunate architect in a most invidious position. 

"Well, sir," said Mr. Wackerbath, with 
elaborate irony, " I presume it is you whom I 
have to thank for improving my land by erect- 
ing this precious palace on it? " 

" I — I — " began Horace, utterly broken 
down; and then he saw, with emotions that may 
be imagined, the Jinnee himself, in his green 
robes, standing inmiediately behind Mr. Wack- 
erbath. 

"Greeting to ye!" said Fakrash, coming 
forward, with his smile of amiable cunning. 
" If I mistake not," he added, addressing the 
startled estate agent, who had jumped visibly, 
" thou art the merchant for whom my son 
here " — and he laid a hand on Horace^s shrink- 
ing shoulder — " undertook to construct a man- 
sion?" 

" I am," said Mr. Wackerbath, in some mys- 



A POOL'S PARADISE 191 

tification. *' Have I the pleasure of addressing 
Mr. Ventimore senior? " 

" No, no," put in Horace, " no relation; he's 
a — a sort of informal partner." 

^^ Hast thou not found him an architect of 
divine gifts?" inquired the Jinnee, beaming 
with pride. ^^ Is not the palace that he hath 
raised for thee by his transcendent accomplish- 
ments a marvel of beauty and stateliness, and 
one that sultans might envy? " 

"No, sirl " shouted the infuriated Mr. 
Wackerbath. " Since you ask my opinion, it's 
nothing of the sort. It's a ridiculous tomfool 
cross between the Falm House at Kew and the 
Brighton Pavilion. There's no billiard room, 
and not a decent bed-room in the house — ^I've 
been all over it, so I ought to know — and, as for 
drainage, there isn't a sign of it. And he has 
the brass — ah, I should say, the unblushing 
effrontery — to call that a country house I " 

Horace's dismay was curiously shot with re- 
lief. The Jinnee, who was certainly very far 
from being a genius, except by courtesy, had 
taken it upon himself to erect the palace ac- 
cording to his own notions of Arabian domestic 
luxury; and Horace, taught by bitter experi- 
ence, could sympathize to some extent with his 
unfortunate client. On the other hand, it was 



192 THE BRASS BOTTLB 

balm to his smarting self-respect to find that 
it was not his own plans after all which had 
been found so preposterous; and, by some ob- 
scure mental process, which I do not propose to 
explain, he became reconciled and almost grate- 
ful to the officious Fakrash. And then, too, it 
was his Jinnee, and Horace had no intention of 
letting him be bullied by an outsider. 

" Let me explain, Mr. Wackerbath," he 
said. " Personally, I've had nothing to do with 
this. This gentleman, wishing to spare me the 
trouble, has taken upon himself to build your 
house for you, without consulting either of us, 
and, from what I know of his powers in that 
direction, I've no doubt that — that it's a devil- 
ish fine place, in its way. Anyhow, we make 
no charge for it; he presents it to you as a free 
gift. Why not accept it as such and make the 
best of it? " 

" Make the best of it! " stormed Mr. Wack- 
erbath. " Stand by and see the best site in 
three counties defaced by a gimcrack Moorish 
nightmare like that! Why, they'll call it 
* Wackerbath's Folly,' sir. I shall be the laugh- 
ing-stock of the neighbourhood. I can't live in 
the beastly building, I couldn't afford to keep 
it up, and I won't have it cumbering my land. 
Do you hear? I wonH! I'll go to law, cost me 



A POOL'S PARADISE 193 

what it may, and compel you and your Ara- 
bian friend there to pull the thing down. 
I'll take the case up to the House of Lords 
if necessary, and fight you as long as I can 
stand." 

"As long as thou canst stand," repeated 
Fakrash gently. " That is a long time, truly, 
O thou litigious one! ... On all-fours, un- 
grateful dog that thou art," he cried, with an 
abrupt and entire change of manner, " and 
crawl henceforth for the remainder of thy daysl 
I, Fakrash-el-Aamash, conmiand thee! " 

It was both painful and grotesque to see the 
portly and intensely respectable Mr. Wacker- 
bath suddenly drop forward on his hands while 
desperately striving to preserve his dignity. 

"How dare you, sir!" he almost barked. 
" How dare you, I say! Are you aware that I 
could summon you for this? Let me up. I 
insist upon getting up! " 

" O contemptible in aspect! " replied the 
Jinnee, throwing open the door. " Begone to 
thy kennel! " 

"I wonHI I can't!" whimpered the un- 
happy man. " How do you expect me — me 
— to cross Westminster Bridge on all-fours? 
What will the officials think at Waterloo, 
where I have been known and respected for 



194 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

years? • How am I to face my family in — in 
this position? Do^ for mercy's sake, let me 
get up 1'' 

Horace had been too shocked and startled 
to speak before, but now humanity, coupled 
with disgust for the Jinnee's high-handed meth- 
ods, compelled him to interfere. ^^Mr. Fak- 
rash," he said, ^^ this has gone far enough. Un- 
less you stop tormenting this unfortunate gen- 
tleman, I've done with you." 

" Never! " said Fakrash. " He hath dared 
to abuse my palace, which is far too sumptuous 
a dwelling for such a son of a burned dog as he. 
Therefore I will make his abode to be in the 
dust forever." 

" But I donH find fault," yelped poor Mr. 
Wackerbath. " You — ^you entirely misunder- 
stood the — the few comments I ventured to 
make. It's a capital mansion, handsome, and 
yet *home-y,' too. I'll never say another 
word against it. I'll — ^yes — I'll live in it, if 
only you'll let me up! " 

" Do as he asks you," said Horace to the 
Jinnee, " or I swear I'll never speak to you 
again." 

" Thou art the arbiter of this matter," was 
the reply, " and if I yield it is at thy interces- 
sion and not his. Rise, then," he said to the 



A FOOL'S PARADISE 196 

humiliated client. "Depart, and show us the 
breadth of thy shoulders 1 " 

It was this precise moment which Bcevor, 
who was probably unable to restrain his curi- 
osity any longer, chose to re-enter the room. 
" Oh, Ventimore," he began, " did I leave 
my — I beg your pardon, I thought you were 
alone again." 

"Don't go, sir," said Mr. Wackerbath, as 
he scrambled awkwardly to his feet, his usually 
florid face mottled in gray and lilac. " I — I 
should like you to know that, after talking 
things quietly over with your friend Mr. Venti- 
more, and his partner here, I am thoroughly 
convinced that my objections were quite un- 
tenable. I retract all I said. The house is — ah 
— admirably planned — most convenient, roomy 
— and — ah — ^unconventional. The — the entire 
freedom from all sanitary appliances is a par- 
ticular recommendation. In short, I am more 
than satisfied. Pray forget anything I may 
have said which might be taken to imply the 
contrary. . . . Gentlemen, good afternoon." 

He bowed himself past the Jinnee in a state 
of deference and apprehension, and was heard 
stumbling down the staircase. Horace hardly 
dared to meet Beevor's eyes, which were fixed 
upon the green-turbaned Jinnee, as he stood 



196 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

apart in dreamy abstraction, smiling placidly to 
himself. 

" I say/' Beevor said to Horace at last, in 
an undertone, " you never told me you had 
gone into partnership." 

"He's not a regular partner," whispered 
Ventimore. " He does things for me occasion- 
ally; that's all." 

"He soon managed to smooth your client 
down," remarked Beevor. 

"Yes," said Horace. "He's an Oriental, 
you see, and he has a — a very persuasive man- 
ner. Would you like to be introduced? " 

" If it's all the same to you," replied Beevor, 
still below his voice, "I'd rather be excused. 
To tell you the truth, old fellow, I don't alto- 
gether fancy the looks of him. And it's my 
opinion," he added, " that the less you have to do 
with him the better. He strikes me as a wrong 
'un, old man." 

" No, no," said Horace. " Eccentric, that's 
all; you don't understand him." 

" Receive news! " began the Jinnee, after 
Beevor, with suspicion and disapproval evident 
even on his back and shoulders, had retreated 
to his own room. " Suleyman the son of Daood 
sleeps with his fathers." 

"I know," retorted Horace, whose nerves 



A POOL*S PARADISE 197 

were unequal to much reference to Solomon 
just then* " So does Queen Anne." 

"I have not heard of her. But art thou 
not astounded, then, by my tidings? " 

"I have matters nearer home to think 
about," said Horace dryly. " I must say, Mr. 
Fakrash, you have landed me in a pretty mess." 

" Explain thyself more fully, for I compre- 
hend thee not." 

" Why on earth," Horace groaned, 
" couldn't you let me build that house my own 
way?" 

" Did I not hear thee with mine own ears 
lament thy inability to perform the task? 
Thereupon I determined that no disgrace should 
fall upon thee by reason of such incompetence, 
since I myself would erect a palace so splendid 
that it should cause thy name to live forever. 
And behold it is done ! " 

" It is," said Horace, " and so am I. I donH 
want to reproach you. I quite feel that you 
have acted with the best intentions; but, oh, 
hang it all! Can't you see that youVe abso- 
lutely wrecked my career as an architect? " 

" That is a thing that can not be," returned 
the Jinnee, " seeing that thou hast all the 
credit." 

" The credit I This is England, not Arabia. 



198 I'HE BRASS BOTTLE 

What credit can I gain from being eupposed to 
be the architect of an Oriental pavilion, which 
might be all very well for Haroun-al-Baschid, 
but I can assure you is preposterous as a home 
for an average Briton? " 

" Yet that overfed hound," remarked the 
Jinnee, '^ expressed much gratification there- 
with." 

" Naturally, after he had found that he 
could not give a candid opinion except on all- 
fours. A valuable testimonial, that I And how 
do you suppose I can take his money? lifo, Mr. 
Fakrash, if I have to go on all-fours myself 
for it, I must say, and I will say, that you've 
made a most frightful muddle of it." 

" Acquaint me with thy wishes," said Fak- 
rash, a little abashed, " for thou knowest that 
I can refuse thee naught." 

" Then," said Horace boldly, " couldn't you 
remove that palace, dissipate it into space, or 
something? " 

" Verily," said the Jinnee, in an aggrieved 
tone, " to do good acts unto such as thee is but 
wasted time, for thou givest me no peace till 
they are undone." 

" This is the last time," urged Horace. " I 
promise never to ask you for anything again." 

" Save for the magnitude of thy service 



A POOL'S PARADISE 199 

unto me," said Fakrash, " I would not hearken 
to this caprice of thine, nor wilt thou find me 
so indulgent on another occasion. But for this 
once " — and here he muttered some words and 
made a sweeping gesture with his right hand — 
" thy desire is granted unto thee. Of the pal- 
ace and all that is therein there remaineth no 
trace." 

" Another surprise for poor old Wacker- 
bath," thought Horace. "But a pleasant one 
this time. My dear Mr. Fakrash," he said 
aloud, "I really canH say how grateful I am 
to you. And now — I hate bothering you like 
this, but if you could manage to look in on Pro- 
fessor Futvoye " 

" What! " cried the Jinnee. " Yet another 
request? Already 1 " 

" Well, you promised you'd do that before, 
you know," said Horace. 

" For that matter," remarked Fakrash, " I 
have already fulfilled my promise." 

"You have?" Horace exclaimed. "And 
does he believe now that it's all true about that 
bottle?" 

" When I left him," answered the Jinnee, 
" all his doubts were removed." 

" By Jove, you are a trump! " cried Horace, 
only too glad to be able to commend with sin- 



200 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

cerity. " And do you think if I went to him 
now I should find him the same as usual? " 

" Nay," said Fakrash, with his weak and 
yet inscrutable smile^ ^^ that is more than I can 
promise thee." 

" But why," asked Horace, " if he knows 
all?" 

There was the oddest expression in the Jin- 
nee^s furtive eyes — a kind of elfin mischief, with 
a sense of wrong-doing, like a naughty child 
whose palate is still reminiscent of illicit jam. 
" Because," he replied, with a sound between 
a giggle and a chuckle, "because, in order to 
overcome his unbelief, it was necessary to trans- 
form him into a one-eyed mule of hideous ap- 
pearance." 

"WAaf/" cried Horace. But, whether to 
avoid thanks or explanations, the Jinnee had 
disappeared with his customary abruptness. 

"Fakrash!" shouted Horace. "Mr. Fak- 
rash! Come back! Do you hear? I must 
speak to you! " 

There was no answer. The Jinnee might be 
well on his way to Lake Chad or Jericho by 
that time; he was certainly far enough away 
from Great Cloister Street. 

Horace sat down at his drawing table and, 
his head buried in his hands, tried to think out 



A POOL'S PARADISE 201 

this latest complication. Fakrash had trans- 
formed Professor Futvoye into a one-eyed mule. 
It would have seemed incredible, almost un- 
thinkable once, but so many impossibilities had 
happened to Horace of late that one more made 
little or no strain upon his credulity. 

What he felt chiefly was the new barrier 
that this event must raise between himself and 
Sylvia. To do him justice, the mere fact that 
the father of his -fiancee was a mule did not 
lessen his ardour in the slightest. Even if he 
had felt no personal responsibility for the calam- 
ity, he loved Sylvia far too well to be deterred 
by it, and few family cupboards are without a 
skeleton of some sort. 

No; he would have married Sylvia just as 
cheerfully if her father had been turned into a 
three-legged pelican or a two-headed toad, in- 
stead of simply a one-eyed mule. With courage 
and the determination to look only on the bright 
side of things, almost any domestic drawback 
can be lived down. 

But the real point, as he instantly recog- 
nised, was whether, in the changed condition of 
circumstances, Sylvia would consent to marry 
him. Might she not, after the experiences of 
that abominable dinner of his the night before, 
connect him in some way with her poor father's 



202 THE BEASS BOTTLE 

transformation? She might even suspect him 
of employing this means of compelling the pro- 
fessor to renew their engagement^ and indeed 
Horace was by no means certain himself that 
the Jinnee might not have acted from some 
muddle-headed motive of this kind. It was 
likely enough that the professor, after learning 
the truth, should have refused to allow his 
daughter to marry the protege of so dubious a 
patron, and that Fakrash had then resorted to 
pressure. 

In any case, Ventimore knew Sylvia well 
enough to feel sure that pride would steel her 
heart against him so long as this obstacle re- 
mained. Marriage was out of the question 
when the only creature who could give her 
away was a one-eyed mule. 

It would be unseemly to set down here all 
that Horace said and thought of the person who 
had brought all this upon them, but after some 
wild and futile raving he became calm enough 
to recognise that his proper place was by Syl- 
via's side. Perhaps he ought to have told her 
all at first, and then she would have been less 
unprepared for this. And yet how could he 
trouble her mind so long as he could cling to 
the hope that the Jinnee would cease to inter- 
fere? 



A FOOL'S PARADISE 203 

But now he could be silent no longer. N'atu- 
rally the prospect of calling at Cottesmore Gar- 
dens just then was anything but agreeable, but 
he felt it would be cowardly to keep away. 

Besides, he would cheer them up; he could 
bring with him a message of hope. Ko doubt 
they believed that the professor's transforma- 
tion would be permanent — a harrowing pros- 
pect for so united a family — ^but fortimately 
Horace would be able to reassure them on this 
point. 

Fakrash had always revoked his previous 
performances as soon as he could be brought to 
understand their fatuity, and Ventimore would 
take good care that he revoked this. 

Nevertheless, it was with a sinking heart 
and an unsteady hand that he pulled the visitors' 
bell at the Futvoyes' house that afternoon, for 
he neither knew in what state he should find 
that afficted family nor how they would regard 
his intrusion at such a time. 



14 



CHAPTER Xn 

THE MESSENGER OF HOPE 

Jessie, the neat and pretty parlour maid, 
opened the door with a smile of welcome which 
Horace found reassuring. No girl, he thought, 
whose master had suddenly been transformed 
into a mule could possibly smile like that. The 
professor, she told him, was not at home, which 
again was comforting; for a savant ^ however 
careless about his personal appearance, would 
scarcely venture to brave public opinion in the 
semblance of a quadruped. 

"Is the professor out?" he inquired, to 
make sure. 

" Not exactly out, sir," said the maid, " but 
particularly engaged, working hard in his study, 
and not to be disturbed on no account." 

This was encouraging, too, since a mule 

could hardly engage in literary labour of any 

kind. Evidently the Jinnee must either have 

overrated his supernatural powers or else have 

been deliberately amusing himself at Horace's 
204 



THB MESSENGER OP HOPE 205 

expense. " Then I will see Miss Futvoye," he 
said. 

" Miss Sylvia is with the master, sir," said 
the girl, " but if you'll come into the drawing- 
room FU let Mrs. Futvoye know you are 
here." 

He had not been in the drawing-room long 
before Mrs. Futvoye appeared, and one glance 
at her face confirmed Ventimore's worst fears. 
Outwardly she was calm enough, but it was only 
too obvious that her calnmess was the result 
of severe self -repression: her eyes, usually so 
shrewdly and placidly observant, had a haggard 
and hunted look; her ears seemed on the strain 
to catch some distant sound. " I hardly thought 
we should see you to-day," she began, in a tone 
of studied reserve, " but perhaps you came to 
offer some explanation of the extraordinary 
manner in which you thought fit to entertain 
us last night. If so ^" 

" The fact is," said Horace, looking into his 
hat, '^I came because I was rather anxious 
about the professor." 

" About my husband? " said the poor lady, 
with a really heroic effort to appear surprised. 
" He — ^is — as well as could be expected. Why 
should you suppose otherwise? " she added, with 
a flash of suspicion. 



206 THB BRASS BOTTLE 

** I fancied perhaps that — that he mightn't 
be quite himself today/' said Horace^ with his 
eyes on the carpet. 

" I see," said Mrs. Futvoye, regaining her 
composure, " you were afraid that all those for- 
eign dishes might not have agreed with him. 
But, except that he is a little irritable this 
afternoon, he is much as usuaL" 

"I'm delighted to hear it," said Horace, 
with reviving hope, " Do you think he would 
see me for a moment? " 

" Great heavens, no! " cried Mrs. Futvoye, 
with an irrepressible start. " I mean," she ex- 
plained, " that, after what took place last night, 
Anthony — ^my husband very properly feels that 
an interview would be too painful." 

"But when we parted he was perfectly 
friendly." 

"I can only say," replied the courageous 
woman, " that you would find him considerably 
altered now." 

Horace had no difficulty in believing it. 
" At least I may see Sylvia? " he pleaded. 

" No," said Mrs. Futvoye. " I really can't 
have Sylvia disturbed just now. She is very 
busy, helping her father. Anthony has to read 
a paper at one of his societies to-morrow night, 
and she is writing it out from his dictation." 



THS MESSENGER OF HOPE 207 

If any departure from strict truth can ever 
be excusable, this surely was one; unfortunate* 
ly, just then Sylvia herself burst into the room. 
" Mother/' she cried, without seeing Horace in 
her agitation, " do come to papa — quick! He 
has just begun kicking again — and I can't man* 
age him alone — . . . Oh, you here! " she 
broke off, as she saw who was in the room. 
"Why do you come here now? Horace, please 
— please go away! Papa is rather unwell, noth- 
ing serious, only — oh, do go away! " 

" Darling! " said Horace, going to her and 
taking both her hands. " I know all — do you 
understand? — all! " 

" Mammal " cried Sylvia reproachfully. 
" Have you told him already? When we set- 
tled that even Horace wasn't to know till — till 
papa recovers." 

" I have told him nothing, my dear," replied 
her mother. " He can't possibly know, unless — 
But no, that isn't possible. And, after all," 
she added, with a warning glance at her daugh- 
ter, "I don't know why we should make any 
mystery about a mere attack of gout. But I 
had better go and see if your father wants any- 
thing." And she hurried out of the room. 

Sylvia sat down and gazed silently into the 
fire. " I dare say you don't know how dread- 



208 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

fully people kick wlien they've got gout," she 
remarked presently. 

" Oh, yes I do,'' said Horace sympathetical- 
ly. " At least I can guess." 

"Especially when it's in both legs," con- 
tinued Sylvia. 

" Or," said Horace gently, " in all four." 

" Ah, you do know! " cried Sylvia. " Then 
it's all the more horrid of you to come." 

" Dearest," said Horace, " is not this just 
the time when my place should be near you — 
and him? " 

" Not near papa, Horace! " she put in anx- 
iously. " It wouldn't be at all safe." 

" Do you really think I have any fear for 
myself?" 

" Are you sure you quite know what he is 
like now? " 

" I understand," said Horace, trying to put 
it as considerately as possible, " that a casual 
observer, who didn't Tcnow your father, might 
mistake him, at .first sight, for — ^f or some sort 
of quadruped." 

"He's a mule," sobbed Sylvia, breaking 
down entirely. " I could bear it better if he 
had been a nice mule. . • . B-but he isn't." 

"Whatever he may be," declared Horace, 
as he knelt by her chair endeavouring to com- 



THB MBSSEKGEB OF HOPS 209 

fort her, "nothing can alter my profound re-* 
spect for him. And yon must let me see him, 
Sylvia, because I fully believe I shall be able 
to cheer him up." 

" If you imagine you can persuade him to 
— to laugh it oflf," said Sylvia tearfully. 

" I wasn't proposing to try and make him 
see the humorous side of his situation," Horace 
mildly explained. " I trust I have more tact 
than that, but he may be glad to know that, 
at the worst, it is only a temporary inconven- 
ience. I'll take care that he's all right again 
before very long." 

She started up and looked at him, her eyes 
widened with growing dread and mistrust. " If 
you can speak like that," she said, "it must 
have been you who — No, I can't believe it — ^it 
would be too horrible! " 

"I who did whaty Sylvia? Weren't you 
there when — when it happened? " 

"No," she replied. "I only heard of it after- 
ward. Mother heard papa talking loudly in his 
study this morning, as if he were angry with 
somebody, and at last she grew so uneasy she 
couldn't bear it any longer, and went in to see 
what was the matter with him. Dad was quite 
alone and looking as usual, only a little excited; 
and then, without the slightest warning, just 



210 THE BRASS BOTTLB 

as she entered the room^ he changed slowly 
into a mule before her eyes! Anybody but 
mamma would have lost her head and roused 
the whole house." 

"Thank Heaven she didn't 1" said Hor- 
ace fervently. "That was what I was most 
afraid of," 

"Then — oh, Horace, it was youl It's no 
use denying it. I feel more sure of it every 
moment." 

" Now, Sylvia," he protested, still anxious, if 
possible, to keep the worst from her, " what can 
have put such an idea as that into your head? " 

" I don't know," she said slowly. " Several 
things last night. No one who was really nice, 
and like everybody else, would live in queer 
rooms like those, and dine on cushions, with 
dreadful black slaves, and — and dancing girls 
and things. You pretended you were quite 
poor." 

" So I am, darling. And as for the rooms 
and — and the rest, they're all gone, Sylvia. 
If you went to Vincent Square to-day you 
wouldn't find a trace of them." 

" That only shows—" said Sylvia. " But 
why should you play such a cruel and — and un- 
gentlemanly trick on poor dad? If you had 
ever really loved me " 



THE MBSSBNGEE OP HOPE 211 

" But I do, Sylvia, you can't really believe 
me capable of such an outrage? Look at me 
and tell me sol " 

"No, Horace,'* said Sylvia frankly, "I 
don't believe you did it But I believe you 
know who did. And you had better tell me at 
once," 

"If you're quite sure you can stand it," 
he replied, "I'll tell you everything," And, 
as briefly as possible, he told her how he had 
unsealed the brass bottle, and all that had come 
of it. 

She bore it, on the whole, better than he 
had expected; perhaps, being a woman, it was 
some consolation to her to remind him that she 
had foretold something of this kind from the 
very first. 

"But of course I never really thought it 
would be so awful as this," she said. " Hor- 
ace, how could you be so careless as to let 
a great wicked thing like that escape out of its 
bottle?" 

" I had a notion it was a manuscript," said 
Horace, " till he came out. But he isn't a great 
wicked thing, Sylvia. He's an amiable old 
Jinnee enough. And he'd do anything for me. 
Nobody could be more grateful and generous 
than he has been." 



212 THE BBASS BOTTLE 

" Do you call it generotis to change my poor 
dear dad into a mule?" inquired Sylvia, with 
a little curl of her upper lip. 

"That was an oversight," said Horace. "He 
meant no harm by it. In Arabia they do these 
things — or used to in his day. Not that that's 
much excuse for him. Still, he's not so young 
as he was, and besides, being bottled up for all 
those centuries must have narrowed him rather. 
You must try and make allowances for him, 
darling." 

"I shan't," said Sylvia, "unless he apolo- 
gizes to poor father, and puts him right at 
once." 

" Why, of course he'll do that," Horace an- 
swered confidently. " I'll see that he does. I 
don't mean to stand any more of his nonsense. 
I'm afraid I've been just a little too slack for 
fear of hurting his feelings, but this time he's 
gone too far, and I shall talk to him like a 
Dutch uncle. He's always ready to do the right 
thing when he's once shown where he has gone 
wrong, only he takes such a lot of showing, 
poor old chap! " 

" But when do you think he'll do the right 
thing?" 

" Oh, as soon as I see him again." 

"Tes, but when will you see him again?" 



THfl MESSENGER OF HOPE 213 

" That^fl more than I can say. He's away 
just now — in China, or Peru, or somewhere.*' 

^^ Horace I Then he won't be back for 
months and months." 

"Oh, yes, he will. He can do the whole 
trip, aller et retour^ you know, in a few hours. 
He's an active old beggar for his age* In the 
meantime, dearest, the chief thing is to keep 
up your father's spirits. So I think I'd better — 
I was just telling Sylvia, Mrs. Futvoye," he 
said, as that lady re-entered the room, "that 
I should like to see the professor at once." 

"It's quite, quite impossible!" was the 
nervous reply. " He's in such a state that he's 
unable to see any one. You don't know how 
fractious gout makes him." 

"Dear Mrs. Futvoye," said Horace, "be- 
lieve me, I know more than you suppose." 

"Yes, mother dear," put in Sylvia, "he 
knows everything — really everything. And 
perhaps it might do dad good to see him." 

Mrs. Futvoye sank helplessly down on a 
settee. " Oh, dear me," she said, " I don't 
know what to say — ^I really don't. If you had 
seen him plunge at the mere suggestion of a 
doctor! " 

Privately, though naturally he could- not say 
so, Horace thought a vet might be -more appro- 



214 THB BRASS BOTTLB 

priate, but eventually he persuaded Mrs. Fut- 
voye to conduct him to her husband's study. 

'^ Anthony, love/' she said, as she knocked 
gently at the door, " Pve brought Horace Venti- 
more to see you for a few moments, if he may." 

It seemed, from the sounds of furious snort- 
ing and stamping within, that the professor re- 
sented this intrusion on his privacy. 

" My dear Anthony," said his devoted wife, 
as she unlocked the door and turned the key on 
the inside after admitting Horace, " try to be 
calm. Think of the servants downstairs. Hor- 
ace is 80 anxious to help ^" 

As for Ventimore, he was speechless, so in- 
expressibly shocked was he by the alteration in 
the professor's appearance. He had never seen 
a mule in sorrier condition or in so vicious a 
temper. Most of the lighter furniture had been 
already reduced to match wood; the glass doors 
of the bookcase were starred or shivered; pre- 
cious Egyptian pottery and glass were strewn 
in fragments on the carpet; and even the mum- 
my, though it smiled with the same enigmatic 
cheerfulness, seemed to have suffered severely 
from the professorial hoofs. 

Horace instinctively felt that any words of 
conventional sympathy would jar here; indeed, 
the professor's attitude and expression reminded 



THB MESSENGER OF HOPE 215 

him irresistibly of a certain " Blondin donkey '^ 
he had seen enacted by music-hall artists at 
the stage when it becomes sullen and defiant. 
Only he had laughed helplessly at the Blondin 
donkey^ and somehow he felt no inclination to 
laugh now. 

" Believe me, sir," he began, " I would not 
disturb you like this unless — Steady, there 1 
For Heaven's sake, professor, don't kick till 
you've heard me out! " For the mule, in a 
clumsy, shambling way which betrayed the nov- 
ice, was slowly revolving on his own axis, so as 
to bring his hind quarters into action, while still 
keeping his only serviceable eye upon his unwel- 
come visitor. 

" Listen to me, sir! " said Horace, manoeu- 
vring in his turn, " I'm not to blame for this, 
and if you brain me, as you seem to be en- 
deavouring to do, you'll simply destroy the 
only living man who can get you out of 
this." 

The mule appeared impressed by this, and 
backed cumbrously into a comer, from which 
he regarded Horace with a mistrustful but at- 
tentive eye. " If, as I imagine, sir," continued 
Horace, " you are, though temporarily deprived 
of speech, perfectly capable of following an 
argument, will you kindly signify it by raising 



216 TAB BRASS BOTTLE 

your right ear?" The mule's right ear rose 
with a sharp twitch, 

" Now we can get on," said Horace, " First 
let me tell you that I repudiate all responsi- 
bility for the proceedings of that infernal Jin- 
nee. ... I wouldn't stamp like that; you might 
go through the floor, you know. . . . Now, if 
you will only exercise a little patience " 

At this the exasperated animal made a sud- 
den run at him with his mouth open, which 
obliged Horace to shelter himself behind a large 
leather arm-chair. " You really miLst keep cool, 
sir," he remonstrated; "your nerves are natu- 
rally upset. If I might suggest a little cham- 
pagne — You could manage it in — ^in a bucket, 
and it would help you to pull yourself together. 
A whisk of your — er — tail would imply con- 
sent." The professor's tail instantly swept some 
rare Arabian glass lamps and vases from a shelf 
at his rear, whereupon Mrs. Futvoye went out, 
and returned presently with a bottle of cham- 
pagne and a large china jardiniere as the best 
substitute she could find for a bucket. 

When the mule had drained the flower-pot 
greedily and appeared refreshed, Horace pro- 
ceeded: 

*^I have every hope, sir," he said, "that 
before many hours you will be smiling — ^pray 



. THfi MESSENGER OF HOPE 217 

donH prance like that; I mean what I say — 
smiling over what now seems to you, very 
justly, a most annoying and serious catastrophe. 
I shall speak seriously to Fakrash (the Jinnee, 
you know), and I am sure that, as soon as he 
realizes what a frightful blunder he has made, 
he will be the first to offer you every reparation 
in his power. For, old foozle as he is, he's thor- 
oughly good hearted." 

The professor drooped his ears at this, and 
shook his head with a doleful incredulity that 
made him look more like the pantomime donkey 
than ever. 

" I think I understand him fairly well by 
this time, sir," said Horace, " and I'll answer for 
it that there's no real harm in him. I give you 
my word of honour that, if you'll only remain 
quiet and leave everything to me, you shall 
very soon be released from this absurd position. 
That's all I came to tell you, and now I won't 
trouble you any longer. If you could bring 
yourself, as a sign that you bear me no ill-feel- 
ing, to give me your — your off foreleg at part- 
ing, I " 

But the professor turned his back in so 
pointed and ominous a manner that Horace 
judged it better to withdraw without insisting 
further. "I'm afraid," he said to Mrs. Fut- 



218 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

voye, after they had rejoined Sylvia in the 
drawing-room, " I'm afraid your husband is still 
a little sore with me about this miserable busi- 
ness." 

" I don't know what else you can expect," 
replied the lady rather tartly. " He can't help 
feeling — as we all must and do after what you 
said just now — that, but for you, this would 
never have happened." 

" If you mean it was all through my attend- 
ing that sale," said Horace, " you might remem- 
ber that I only went there at the professor's 
request. Tou know that, Sylvia." 

"Yes, Horace," said Sylvia, "but papa 
never asked you to buy a hideous brass bottle 
with a nasty genius in it. And any one with 
ordinary common sense would have kept it prop- 
erly corked." 

" What, you against me too, Sylvia? " cried 
Horace, cut to the quick. 

" No, Horace, never against youl I didn't 
mean to say what I did, only it is such a relief 
to put the blame on somebody. I know — I know 
you feel it almost as much as we do. But, so 
long as poor dear papa remains as he is, we can 
never be anything to one another. You must 
see that, Horace." 

" Yes, I see that," he said. " But, trust me. 



THE MESSENGER OF HOPE 219 

Sylvia; he shall not remain as he is. I swear 
he shall not! In another day or two, at the out- 
side, you will see him his own self once more. 
And then — Oh, darling, darling! you won't let 
anything or anybody separate us? Promise me 
that!'' 

He would have held her in his arms, but 
she kept him at a distai\ce. ^' When papa is 
himself again," she said, '^ I shall know better 
what to say. I can't promise anything now, 
Horace." 

Horace recognised that no appeal would 
draw a more definite answer from her just 
then, so he took his leave, with the feeling that, 
after all, matters must improve before very 
long, and in the meantime he must bear the 
suspense with patience. 

He got through dinner as well as he could 
in his own rooms, for he did not like to go to 
his club lest the Jinnee should suddenly return 
during his absence. 

"If he wants me he'd be quite equal to 
coming on to the club after me," he reflected, 
" for he has about as much sense of the fitness 
of things as Mary's lamb. I shouldn't care 
about seeing him suddenly bursting through the 
floor of the smoking room — ^nor would the com- 
mittee." 

15 



220 ^BS BRASS BOTTLE 

He sat up late, in the hope that Fakrash 
would appear; but the Jinnee made no sign, 
and Horace began to get uneasy. "I wish 
there was some way of ringing him up," he 
thought. " If he were only the slave of a ring 
or a lamp, I'd rub it, but it wouldn't be any 
use to rub that bottle; and besides, he isn't a 
slave. Probably he has a suspicion that he has 
not exactly distinguished himself over his latest 
feat, and thinks it prudent to keep out of my 
way for the present. But if he fancies he'll 
make things any better for himself by that he'll 
find himself mistaken." 

It was maddening to think of the unhappy 
professor still fretting away hour after hour in 
the uncongenial form of a mule, waiting im- 
patiently for the relief that never came. If it 
lingered much longer, he might actually starve, 
unless his family thought of getting in some 
oats for him, and he could be prevailed upon to 
touch them. And how much longer could they 
succeed in concealing the nature of his afflic- 
tion? How long before all Kensington and the 
whole civilized world knew that one of the lead- 
ing Orientalists in Europe was restlessly pranc- 
ing on four legs around his study in Cottesmore 
Gardens? 

Racked by speculations such as these, Venti- 



THB MESSBNGEB OF HOPE 221 

more lay awake till well into the small hours, 
when he dropped off into troubled dreams that, 
wild as they were, could not be more grotesquely 
fantastic than the realities to which they were 
the alternative. ♦ 



CHAPTER Xm 

A OHOIOE OF EVILS 

Not even his morning tub could brace 
Ventimore's spirits to their usual cheerfulness. 
After sending away his breakfast almost un- 
tastedy he stood at his window, looking drearily 
out, over the crude green turf of Vincent 
Square, at the indigo masses of the Abbey and 
the Victoria Tower, and the huge gasometers 
to the right which loomed faintly through a 
dun-coloured haze. 

He felt a positive loathing for his office, 
to which he had gone with such high hopes 
and enthusiasm of late. There was no work 
for him to do there any longer, and the 
sight of his drawing table and materials 
would, he knew, be intolerable in their mute 
mockery. 

Nor could he with any decency present him- 
self again at Cottesmore Gardens while the situ- 
ation still remained unchanged, as it must do 
until he had seen Fakrash. 



A CHOICE OF EVILS 

When would the Jinnee return, or — ^hor- 
rible suspicion — did he never intend to return 
at all? 

"Fakrash," he groaned aloud, "you canH 
really mean to leave me in such a regular deuce 
of a hole as this? " 

" At thy service! '^ said a well-known voice 
behind him, and he turned to see the Jinnee 
standing, smiling, on the hearth rug; and at this 
accomplishment of his dearest desire all his in- 
dignation surged back. 

"Oh, there you are!" he said irritably. 
" Where on earth have you been all this 
time? " 

" Nowhere on earth," was the bland reply, 
" but in the regions of the air, seeking to pro- 
mote thy welfare." 

" If you have been as brilliantly successful 
up there as you have been down here," retorted 
Horace, " I have much to thank you for." 

" I am more than repaid," answered the 
Jinnee, who, like many most estimable persons, 
was almost impervious to irony, " by such assur- 
ances of thy gratitude." 

"Fm not grateful," said Horace, fuming. 
" Fm devilish annoyed." 

"Well hath it been written," replied the 
Jinnee: 



224 THB BBASS BOTTLB 

**'Be disregardfnl of thine affairs, and commit them to 
the course of Fate, 
For often a thing that enrages thee may eventually be 
to thee pleasing.' " 

^' I don't see the remotest chance of that in 
my case," said Horace. 

*^Why is thy countenance thus troubled, 
and what new complaint hast thou against 
me?" 

"What the devil do you mean by turn- 
ing a distinguished and perfectly inoffensive 
scholar into a wall-eyed mule? " Horace burst 
out. " K that is your idea of a practical 
joke " 

"It is one of the easiest affairs possible," 
said the Jinnee, complacently running his fin- 
gers through the thin strands of his beard. " I 
have accomplished such transformations on sev- 
eral occasions." 

" Then you ought to be ashamed of your- 
self; that's all. The question is now, how you 
propose to restore him again? " 

" Far from undoing be that which is accom- 
plished! " was the sententious answer. 

"What!" cried Horace, hardly believing 
his ears. "You surely don't mean to allow 
that unhappy professor to remain like that for- 
ever, do you?" 



A GHOICB OF BVILS 225 

" None can alter what is predestined/' 

" Very likely not. But it wasn't decreed 
that a learned man should be suddenly degraded 
to a beastly mule for the rest of his life. Des- 
tiny wouldn't be such a fool." 

"Despise not mules, for they are useful 
and valuable animals in the household." 

" But, confound it all, have you no imagina- 
tion? Can't you enter at all into the feelings 
of a man — a man of wide learning and reputa- 
tion — suddenly plunged into such a humiliating 
condition?" 

" Upon his own head be it," said Fakrash 
coldly. " For he hath brought this fate upon 
himself." 

" Well, how do you suppose that you have 
helped me by this performance? Will it make 
him any the more disposed to consent to my 
marrying his daughter? Is that all you know 
of the world?" 

" It is not my intention that thou shouldst 
take his daughter to wife." 

" Whether you approve or not, it's my in- 
tention to marry her." 

" Assuredly she will not marry thee so long 
as her father remaineth a mule." 

" There I agree with you. But is that your 
notion of doing me a good turn? " 



226 THB BRASS BOTTLE 

"I did not consider thy interest in this 
matter." 

" Then will you be good enough to consider 
it now? I have pledged my word that he shall 
be restored to his original form. Not only my 
happiness is at stake, but my honour." 

" By failure to perform the impossible none 
can lose honour. And this is a thing that can 
not be undone." 

" Can not be undone? " repeated Horace, 
feeling a cold clutch at his heart. " Why? " 

" Because," said the Jinnee sullenly, " I 
have forgotten the way." 

" Nonsense 1" retorted Horace. "I don't 
believe it. Why," he urged, descending to flat- 
tery, " you're such a clever old Johnny — I beg 
your pardon, I meant such a clever old Jinnee 
— ^you can do anything, if you only give your 
mind to it. Just look at the way you changed 
this house back again to what it was. Marvel- 
lous! " 

" That was the veriest trifle," said Fakrash, 
though he was obviously pleased by this tribute 
to his talent. " This would be a different affair 
altogether." 

" But child's play to youy^ insinuated Hor- 
ace. " Come, you know very well you can do 
it if you only choose." 



A CHOICE OP EVILS 227 

" It may be as thou sayest. But I do not 
choose." 

" Then, I think," said Horace, " that, con- 
sidering the obligations you admit yourself you 
are under to me, I have a right to know the 
reason — the real reason — ^why you refuse." 

"Thy claim is not without justice," an- 
swered the Jinnee, after a pause, "nor can I 
decline to gratify thee." 

" That's right 1 " cried Horace. " I knew 
you'd see it in the proper light when it was 
once put to you. Now don't lose any more 
time, but restore that unfortunate man at once, 
as you've promised." 

"Not so," said the Jinnee. "I promised 
thee a reason for my refusal, and that thou 
shalt have. Know then, O my son, that this 
indiscreet one had, by some vile and unhallowed 
arts, divined the hidden meaning of what was 
written upon the seal of the bottle wherein I 
was confined, and was preparing to reveal the 
same unto all men." 

" What would it matter to you if he did? " 

"Much, for this writing contained a false 
and lying record of my actions." 

" If it is all lies it can't do you any harm. 
Why not treat them with the contempt they 
deserve?" 



THE BRASS BOTTLS 

" They are not all lies," the Jinnee admitted 
reluctantly. 

" Well, never mind. Whatever youVe 
done, you've expiated it by this time." 

" Now that Suleyman is no more, it is my 
desire to seek out my kinsmen of the Green 
Jinn and live out my days in amity and honour. 
How can that be if they hear my name exe- 
crated by all mortals? " 

" Nobody would think of execrating you 
about an affair three thousand years old. It's 
too stale a scandal." 

" Thou speakest without understanding. I 
tell thee that if men knew but the half of my 
misdoings," said Fakrash, in a tone not alto- 
gether free from a kind of sombre complacency, 
" the noise of them would rise even unto the 
uppermost regions and scorn and loathing would 
be my portion." 

" Oh, it's not so bad as all that," said Hor- 
ace, who ha4 a private impression that the Jin- 
nee's "past" would probably turn out to be 
chiefly made up of peccadilloes. "But, any- 
way, I'm sure the professor will readily agree 
to keep silence about it, and, as you have of 
course got the seal in your own possession 
again " 

" Nay, the seal is still in his possession, and 



A CHOICB OF EVILS 229 

it is naught to me where it is deposited/' said 
Fakrash, " since the only mortal who hath de- 
ciphered it is now a dumb animal.'^ 

" Wot at all," said Horace. " There are sev- , 
eral friends of his who could decipher that in- 
scription quite as easily as he did." 

" Is this the truth? " said the Jinnee, in 
visible alarm. 

"Certainly," said Horace. "Within the 
last quarter of a century archaeology has made 
great strides. Our learned men can now read 
Babylonian bricks and Chaldean tablets as 
easily as if they were advertisements on gal- 
vanized iron. You may think youVe been ex- 
tremely clever in turning the professor into an 
animal, but you'll probably find you've only 
made another mistake." 

" How so? " inquired Fakrash. 

" Well," said Horace, seeing his advantage 
and pushing it unscrupulously, "now that, in 
your infinite wisdom, you have ordained that 
he should be a mule, he naturally can't possess 
property. Therefore, all his effects will have 
to be sold, and among them will be that seal 
of yours, which, like many other things in his 
collection, will probably be bought up by the 
British Museum, where it will be examined 
and commented upon by every Orientalist 



230 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

in Europe. I suppose youVe thought of all 
that?" 

" O young man of marvellous sagacity! " 
said the Jinnee. " Truly I had omitted to think 
of these things, and thou hast opened my eyes 
in time. For I will present myself unto this 
man-mule and adjure him to reveal where he 
hath bestowed this seal so that I may regain it." 

" He can't do that, you know, so long as he 
remains a mule." 

" I will endow him mth speech for the pur- 
pose." 

" Let me tell you this," said Horace. " He's 
in a very nasty temper just now, naturally 
enough, and you won't get anything out of him 
until you have restored him to human form. If 
you do that, he'll agree to anything." 

" Whether I restore him or not will depend 
not on me, but on the damsel who is his daugh- 
ter, and to whom thou art contracted in mar- 
riage. For, first of all, I must speak with her." 

" So long as I am present, and you promise 
not to play any tricks," said Horace, " I've no 
objection; for, I believe, if you once saw her 
and heard her plead for her poor father, you 
wouldn't have the heart to hold out any longer. 
But you must give me your word that you'll 
behave yourself." 



A CpOICS OP EVILS 231 

" Thou hast it/' said the Jinnee. " I do 
but desire to see her on thine account." 

" Very well/' agreed Horace, " but I really 
can't introduce you in that turban; she'd be 
terrified. Couldn't you contrive to get your- 
self up in commonplace English clothes just 
for once — something that wouldn't attract so 
much attention? " 

" Will this satisfy thee? " inquired the Jin- 
nee, as his green turban and flowing robes sud- 
denly resolved themselves into the conventional 
chimney-pot hat, frock-coat, and trousers of 
modem civilization. 

He bore a painful resemblance in them to 
the kind of elderly gentleman who comes on in 
the harlequinade to be bonneted by the clown; 
but Horace was in no mood to be critical just 
then. 

"That's better," he said encouragingly; 
" much better. Now," he added, as he led the 
way to the hall and put on his own hat and 
overcoat, "we'll go out and find a hansom, 
and be at Kensington in less than twenty min- 
utes." 

"We shall be there in less than twenty 
seconds," said the Jinnee, seizing him by the 
arm above the elbow, and Horace found him- 
self suddenly carried up into the air and set 



233 THE BRASS BCCTLE 

down, gasping with surprise and want of breath, 
on the pavement opposite the Futvoyes' door. 

" I should just like to observe," he said, as 
soon as he could speak, "that if weVe been 
seen we shall probably cause a sensation. Lon- 
doners are not accustomed to seeing people 
skimming over the chimney-pots like amateur 
rooks." 

" Trouble not for that," said Fakrash, " for 
no mortal eyes are capable of following our 
flight." 

" I hope not," said Horace, ** or I shall lose 
any reputation I have left. I think," he added, 
" I'd better go in alone first and prepare them, 
if you won't mind waiting outside. I'll come 
to the window and wave my pocket handker- 
chief when they're ready. And do come in by 
the door like an ordinary person, and ask the 
maid-servant if you may see me." 

" I will bear it in mind," answered the Jin- 
nee, and suddenly sank, or seemed to sink, 
through a chink in the pavement. 

Horace, after ringing at the Futvoyes' door, 
was admitted and shown into the drawing-room, 
where Sylvia presently came to him, looking 
as lovely as ever, in spite of the pallor due to 
sleeplessness and anxiety. 

" It is kind of you to call and inquire," she 



A CHOICE! OF BVfLS 233 

said, with the unnatural calm of suppressed hys- 
teria. "Dad is much the same this morning. 
He had a fairly good night, and was able to 
take part of a carrot for breakfast, but I'm 
afraid he's just remembered that he has to read 
a paper on Oriental Occultism before the 
Asiatic Society this evening, and it's worrying 
him a little. Oh, Horace," she broke out un- 
expectedly, "how perfectly awful all this is I 
How are we to bear it? " 

"Don't give way, darling," said Horace. 
" You will not have to bear it much longer." 

" It's all very well, Horace, but unless some- 
thing is done soon it will be too late. We can't 
go on keeping a mule in the study without the 
servants suspecting something. And where are 
we to put poor dear papa? It's too ghastly to 
think of his having to be sent away to — to a 
home of rest for horses, and yet what is to be 
done with him? . . . Why do you come if you 
can't do anything? " 

" I shouldn't be here unless I could bring 
you good news. Tou remember what I told you 
about the Jinnee? " 

" Eememberl " cried Sylvia. " As if I 
could forget I Has he really come back, Hor- 
ace?" 

" Yes. I think I have brought him to see 



234 THE BRASS BOTTLB 

that he has made a foolish mistake in enchant- 
ing your unfortunate f ather^ and he seems will- 
ing to undo it on certain conditions. He is 
somewhere within call at this moment^ and will 
come in whenever I give the signal. But he 
wishes to speak to you first." 

"To mef Oh, no, Horace I " exclaimed 
Sylvia, recoiling. "Fd so much rather not. 
I don't like things that have come out of brass 
bottles. I shouldn't know what to say, and it 
would frighten me horribly." 

" You must be brave, darling," said Horace. 
" Remember that it depends on you whether 
the professor is to be restored or not. And 
there's nothing alarming about old Fakrash, 
either. I've got him to put on ordinary things, 
and he really doesn't look so bad in them. He's 
quite a mild, amiable old noodle, and he'll do 
anything for you if you'll only stroke him down 
the right way. You will see him, won't you, 
for your father's sake? " 

" If I must," said Sylvia, with a shudder. 
" I — I'll be as nice to him as I can." 

Horace went to the window and gave the 
signal, though there was no one in sight. How- 
ever, it was evidently seen, for the next moment 
there was a resounding blow at the front door, 
and a little later Jessie, the parlour maid, an- 



A CHOICE OF BVILS 236 

nounced, " Mr. Fatrasher Larmaah — to see Mr. 
Ventimore," and the Jinnee stalked gravely in 
with his tall hat on his head. 

**You are probably not aware of it, sir/* 
said Horace, " but it is the custom here to un- 
cover in the presence of a lady." The Jinnee 
removed his hat with both hands and stood, 
silent and impassive. 

" Let me present you to Miss Sylvia Fut- 
voye," Ventimore continued, " the lady whose 
name you have already heard." 

There was a momentary gleam in Fakrash's 
odd, slanting eyes as they lighted on Sylvia's 
shrinking figure, but he made no acknowledg- 
ment of the introduction. 

^ The damsel is not without comeliness," he 
remarked to Horace, " but there are lovelier 
far than she." 

" I didn't ask you for either criticisms or 
comparisons," said Ventimore sharply. " There 
is nobody in the world equal to Miss Futvoye, 
in my opinion, and you will be good enough to 
remember that fact. She is exceedingly dis- 
tressed — as any dutiful daughter would be — by 
the cruel and senseless trick you have played 
her father, and she begs that you will rectify 
it at once. DonH you, Sylvia? " 

**Yes, indeed," said Sylvia, almost in a 

16 



236 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

whisper, " if — if it isn't troubling you too 
much." 

" I have been turning over thy words in my 
mind," said Fakrash, still ignoring Sylvia, 
" and I am convinced that thou art right. Even 
if the contents of the seal were known of all 
men, they would raise no clamour about affairs 
that concern them not; therefore, it is nothing 
to me in whose hands the seal may be. Dost 
thou not agree with me in this? " 

" Of course I do," said Horace. " And it 
naturally follows that " 

" It naturally follows — as thou sayest — " 
said the Jinnee, with a cunning assumption of in- 
difference, " that I have naught to gain by 
demanding back the seal as the price of re- 
storing this damsel's father to his original 
form. Wherefore, so far as I am concerned, 
let him remain a mule forever, unless, in- 
deed, thou art ready to comply with my condi- 
tions." 

" Conditions! " cried Horace, utterly unpre- 
pared for this conclusion. " What can you pos- 
sibly want from me? But state them. I'll 
agree to anything, in reason." 

" I demand that thou shouldst renounce the 
hand of this damsel." 

" That's out of all reason," said Horace, 



A CHOICE OF EVILS 237 

" and you know it. I will never give her up, 
so long as she is willing to keep me." 

" Maiden," said the Jinnee, addressing Syl- 
via for the first time, " the matter rests with 
thee. Wilt thou release this, my son, from his 
contract, since thou art no fit wife for such as 
he?" 

"How can I," cried Sylvia, "when I 
love him and he loves me? What a wicked, 
tyrannical old thing you must be to expect itl 
I canH give him up." 

"It is but giving up what can never be 
thine," said Fakrash. " And be not anxious 
for him, for I will reward and console him a 
thousand-fold for the loss of thy society. A 
little while, and he shall remember thee no 
more." 

" Don't believe him, darling," said Horace. 
" You know me better than that." 

"Remember," said the Jinnee, "that by 
thy refusal thou wilt condenm thy parent to re- 
main a mule throughout all his days. Art thou 
so unnatural and hard-hearted a daughter as to 
do this thing? " 

" Oh, I couldn'tl " cried Sylvia. " I can't 
let poor father remain a mule aU his life when 
one word — and yet what am I to do? Horace, 
what shall I say? Advise me . . . advise me! " 



238 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

"Heaven help us both!" groaned Venti- 
more. " If I could only see the right thing 
to do. Look here, Mr. Fakrash," he added, 
" this is a matter that requires consideration. 
Will you relieve us of your presence for a short 
time while we talk it over? " 

" With all my heart," said the Jinnee, in the 
most obliging manner in the world, and van- 
ished instantly. 

"Now, darling," began Horace, after he 
had gone, "if that unspeakable old scoundrel 
is really in earnest, there's no denying that he's 
got us in an extremely tight place. But I can't 
bring myself to believe that he does mean it. 
I fancy he's only trying us. And what I want 
you to do is not to consider me in the. matter 
at all." 

" How can I help it? " said poor Sylvia. 
" Horace, you — you don't want to be released, 
do you? '* 

" I! " said Horace. " When you are all I 
have in the world 1 That's so likely, Sylvia. 
But we are bound to look facts in the face. To 
begin with, even if this hadn't happened, your 
people wouldn't let our engagement continue. 
For my prospects have changed again, dearest. 
I'm even worse off than when we first met, for 
that confounded Jinnee has contrived to lose 



A CHOICE OP EVILS 



my first and only client for me — the one thing 
worth having he ever gave me! " And he told 
her the story of the mushroom palace and Mr. 
Wackerbath's withdrawal. " So you see, dar- 
ling," he concluded, " I haven't even a home to 
offer you; and if I had, it would be miserably 
imcomfortable for you, with that old marplot 
continually dropping in on'us, especially if — as 
I'm afraid he has — he's taken some unreason- 
able dislike to you." 

" But surely you can talk him over? " said 
Sylvia. " You said you could do anything you 
liked with him." 

" I'm beginning to find," he replied, rue- 
fully enough, " that he's not so easily managed 
as I thought. And for the present, I'm afraid, 
if we are to get the professor out of this, that 
there's nothing for it but to humour old Fak- 
rash." 

" Then you actually advise me to — to break 
it off? " she cried. ^^ I never thought you would 
do that." 

" For your own sake," said Horace. " For 
your father's sake. If you won't, Sylvia, I 
must And you will spare me that? Let us 
both agree to part, and — and trust that we shall 
be united some day." 

" Don't try to deceive me or yourself, Hor- 



240 'I'HE BRASS BOTTLE 

ace," she said. " If we part now, it will be for- 
ever." 

He had a dismal conviction that she was 
right. " We must hope for the best," he said 
drearily. ** Fakrash may have some motive in 
all this we don't understand. Or he may relent. 
But part we must — for the present." 

" Very well," she said. " If he restores dad 
I will give you up. But not unless." 

" Hath the damsel decided? " asked the Jin- 
nee, suddenly reappearing. " For the period of 
deliberation is past." 

" Miss Futvoye and I," Horace answered 
for her, " are willing to consider our engage- 
ment at an end until you approve of its re- 
newal, on condition that you restore her father 
at once." 

" Agreed ! " said Fakrash. " Conduct me to 
him, and we will arrange the matter without 
delay." 

Outside they met Mrs. Futvoye on her way 
from the study. " You here, Horace? " she ex- 
claimed. "And who is this — gentleman?" 

" This," said Horace, " is the — er — author 
of the professor's misfortunes, and he has come 
here at my request to undo his work." 

" It would be so kind of him! " exclaimed 
the distressed lady, who was by this time far 



A CHOICE OF EVILS 241 

beyond either surprise or resentment. "Fm 
sure if he knew all we have gone through — " 
and she led the way to her husband's room. 

As soon as the door was opened the profess- 
or seemed to recognise his tormentor, in spite of 
his changed raiment, and was so powerfully agi- 
tated that he actually reeled on his four legs, 
and " stood over " in a lamentable fashion. 

" O man of distinguished attainments," 
began the Jinnee, " whom I have caused, for 
reasons that are known to thee, to assume the 
shape of a mule, speak, I adjure thee, and tell 
me where thou hast deposited the inscribed seal 
which is in thy possession! " 

The professor spoke, and the effect of articu- 
late speech proceeding from the mouth of what 
was, to all outward seeming, an ordinary mule 
was strange beyond description. " I'll see you 
damned first! " he said sullenly. " You can't 
do worse to me than you've done already." 

" As thou wilt," said Fakrash. " But, unless 
I regain it, I will not restore thee to what thou 
wert." 

" Well, then," said the mule savagely, 
" you'll find it in the top right-hand drawer of 
my writing table; the key is in that diorite bowl 
on the mantelpiece." 

The Jinnee unlocked the drawer, and took 



242 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

out the metal cap, which he placed in the breast 
pocket of his incongruous frock-coat. " So far, 
well/*, he said. " Next thou must deliver up to 
me the transcription thou hast made and swear 
to preserve an inviolable secrecy regarding the 
meaning thereof." 

" Do you know what you're asking, sir? " 
said the mule, laying back his ears viciously. 
" Do you think that, to oblige you, I'm going to 
suppress one of the most remarkable discoveries 
of my whole scientific career? Never, sir; 
never! " 

" Since, if thou refusest, I shall assuredly 
deprive thee of speech once more and leave thee 
a mule, as thou art now, of hideous appearance," 
said the Jinnee, " thou art like to gain little 
by a discovery which thou wilt be unable to im- 
part. However, the choice rests with thee." 

The mule rolled his one eye and showed all 
his teeth in a vicious snarl. " You've got the 
whip-hand of me," he said, " and I may as well 
give in. There's a transcript inside my blotting- 
case — it's the only copy I've made." 

Fakrash found the paper, which he rubbed 
into invisibility between his palms, as any ordi- 
nary conjurer might do. 

"Now raise thy right fore-foot," he said, 
" and swear by all thou boldest sacred never to 



A CHOICE OP EVILS 243 

divulge what thou hast learned." Which oath 
the professor, in the vilest of tempers, took 
clumsily enough. 

" Good," said the Jinnee, with a grim smile. 
" Now let one of thy women bring me a cup of 
fair water." 

Sylvia went out, and came back with a cup 
of water. " It's filtered," she said anxiously. 
" I donH know if that will do." 

" It will suffice," said Fakrash. ^' Let both 
the women withdraw." 

" Surely," remonstrated Mrs, Futvoye, 
" you don't mean to turn his wife and daughter 
out of the room at such a moment as this? We 
shall be perfectly quiet, and we may even be 
of some help." 

" Do as you're told, my dear! " snapped the 
ungrateful mule. " Do as you're told. You'll 
only be in the way here. Do you suppose he 
doesn't know his own beastlyv business? " 

They left accordingly; whereupon Fakrash 
took the cup — an ordinary breakfast cup with 
a Greek key-border pattern in pale blue round 
the top — and, drenching the mule with the con- 
tents, exclaimed: "Quit this form and return 
to the form in which thou werti " 

For a dreadful moment or two it seemed as 
if no effect was to be produced; the animal 



244 THE BBASS BOTTLE 

simply stood and shivered, and Ventimore began 
to feel an agonizing suspicion that the Jinnee 
really had, as he had first asserted, forgotten 
how to perform this particular incantation. 

All at once the mule reared, and began to 
beat the air frantically with his fore-hoofs; after 
which he fell heavily backward into the nearest 
arm-chair (which was fortunately a solid and 
capacious piece of furniture) with his fore-legs 
hanging limply at his side in a semi-human 
fashion. There was a brief convulsion, and 
then, by some gradual process unspeakably im- 
pressive to witness, the man seemed to break 
through the mule, the mule became merged in 
the man, and Professor Futvoye, restored to 
his own natural form and habit, sat gasping and 
trembling in the chair before them. 



CHAPTER XIV 

" smcE there's no help, come, let us kiss and 
pabt" 

As soon as the professor seemed to have re- 
gained his faculties, Horace opened the door 
and called in Sylvia and her mother, who were, 
as was only to be expected, overcome with joy 
on seeing the head of the family released from 
his ignoble condition as a singularly ill-favoured 
quadruped. 

" There, there," said the professor, as he 
submitted to their embraces and incoherent con- 
gratulations, " it's nothing to make a fuss about. 
I'm quite myself again, as you can see. And," 
he added, with an unreasonable outburst of ill- 
temper, " if one of you had only had the com- 
mon sense to think of such a simple remedy as 
sprinkling a little cold water over me when I 
was first — taken like that, I should have been 
spared a great deal of unnecessary inconven- 
ience. But that's always the way with women 

— lose their heads the moment anything goes 

245 



246 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

wrong. If I had not kept perfectly cool my- 
self " 

" It was very stupid of us not to think of 
it, papa," said Sylvia, tactfully ignoring the 
fact that there was scarcely an undamaged arti- 
cle in the room. " Still, you know, if we had 
thrown the water, it might not have had the 
same effect." 

" I'm not in a condition to argue now," said 
her father. " You didn't trouble to try it, and 
there's no more to be said." 

" No more to be saidl " exclaimed Fakrash. 
" O thou monster of ingratitude, hast thou no 
thanks for him who hath delivered thee from 
thy predicament? " 

" As I am already indebted to you, sir," 
said the professor, "for about twenty-four 
hours of the most poignant and humiliating 
mental and bodily anguish a human being can 
endure, inflicted for no valid reason that I 
can discover except the wanton indulgence 
of your unholy powers, I can only say that 
any gratitude of which I am conscious is of 
a very qualified description. As for you, 
Yentimore," he added, turning to Horace, 
" I don't know — I can only guess at — ^the part 
you have played in this wretched business; 
but, in any case, you will understand, once 



"COMB, LET US KISS AND PART" 247 

for all, that all relations between ns must 
cease." 

" Papa," said Sylvia tremulously, " Horace 
and I have already agreed that — that we must 
separate." 

" At my bidding," explained Fakrash suave- 
ly, " For such an alliance would be totally un- 
worthy of his merits and condition." 

This frankness was rather too much for the 
professor, whose temper had not been improved 
by his recent trials. " Nobody asked for your 
opinion, sir! " he snapped. " A person who has 
only recently been released from a term of long 
and, from all I have been able to ascertain, well- 
deserved imprisonment is scarcely entitled to 
pose as an authority on social rank. Have the 
decency not to interfere again with my do- 
mestic affairs." 

" Excellent is the saying," remarked the im- 
perturbable Jinnee, " ^ Let the rat that is be- 
tween the paws of the leopard observe rigidly 
all the rules of politeness and refrain from 
words of provocation.' For to return thee to 
the form of a mule once more would be no diffi- 
cult undertaking." 

*^I think I failed to make myself clear," 
the professor hastened to observe, "failed to 
make myself clear. I — I merely meant to con- 



248 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

gratulate you on your fortunate escape from the 
consequences of what I — I don't doubt was an 
error of justice. I — ^I am sure that in the future 
you will employ your — ^your very remarkable 
abilities to better purpose, and I would suggest 
that the greatest service you can do this un- 
fortunate young man here is to abstain from any 
further attempts to promote his interests." 

"Hear, hear!" Horace could not help 
throwing in, though in so discreet an undertone 
that it was inaudible. 

" Far be this from me," replied Fakrash. 
" For he has become unto me even as a favour- 
ite son, whom I design to place upon the golden 
pinnacle of felicity. Therefore I have chosen 
for him a wife who is unto this damsel of thine 
as the full moon to the glow-worm, and as the 
bird of paradise to an unfledged sparrow. And 
the nuptials shall be celebrated before many 
hours." 

"Horace!" cried Sylvia, justly incensed. 
"Why— ^fey didn't you tell me this before?" 

" Because," said the unhappy Horace, " this 
is the very first Fve heard of it. He's always 
springing some fresh surprise on me," he added, 
in a whisper, " but they never come to anything 
much. And he can't marry me against my will, 
vou know." 



-COMB, LET US KISS AND PART" 249 

" No," said Sylvia, biting her lip. " I never 
supposed he could do that, Horace." 

" I'll settle this at once," he replied. " Now 
look here, Mr. Jinnee," he added. " I don't 
know what new scheme you have got in your 
head, but if you are proposing to marry me to 
anybody in particular " 

" Have I not informed thee that I have it 
in contemplation to obtain for thee the hand of 
a king^s daughter of marvellous beauty and ac- 
complishments? " 

" You know perfectly well you never men- 
tioned it before," said Horace, while Sylvia 
gave a little low cry. 

" Eepine not, O damsel," counselled the 
Jinnee, " since it is for his welfare. For, 
though as yet he believeth it not, when he be- 
holds the resplendent beauty of her counte- 
nance he will swoon away with delight and 
forget thy very existence." 

" I shall do nothing of the sort! " said Hor- 
ace savagely. " Just imderstand that I don't 
intend to marry any princess. You may pre- 
vent me — in fact you have — from marrying this 
lady, but you can't force me to marry anybody 
else. I defy you!" 

" When thou hast seen thy bride's perfec- 
tions thou wilt need no compulsion," said Fak- 



250 THE BRASS BOTTLB 

rash. ^^ And if thou shouldst refuse^ know this: 
that thou wilt be exposing those who are dear 
to thee in the household to calamities of the 
most unfortunate description." 

The awful vagueness of this threat com- 
pletely crushed Horace; he could not think, he 
did not even dare to imagine, what conse- 
quences he might bring upon his beloved Syl- 
via and her helpless parents by persisting in his 
refusal. " Give me time," he said heavily. 
" I want to talk this over with you." 

" Pardon me, Ventimore," said the profess- 
or, with acidulous politeness, " but, interesting 
as the discussion of your matrimonial arrange- 
ments is to you and your — ^protector, I should 
greatly prefer that you chose some more fitting 
place for arriving at a decision which is, in the 
circumstances, a /foregone conclusion, I am 
rather tired and upset, and I should be obliged 
if you and this gentleman could bring this most 
trying interview to a close as soon as you con- 
veniently can." 

"You hear, Mr. Fakrash?" said Horace 
between his teeth. " It is quite time we 
left. If you go at once, I will follow you very 
shortly." 

"Thou wilt find me awaiting thee," an- 
swered the Jinnee, and, to Mrs. Futvoye's and 



"COME, LET US KISS AND PART" 251 

Sylvia^s alarm, disappeared through one of the 
bookcases. 

" Well/^ said Horace gloomily, " you see 
how I'm situated? That obstipate old devil has 
cornered me. I'm done for." 

" Don't say that," said the professor. " You 
appear to be on the eve of a most brilliant alli- 
ance, in which I am sure you have our best 
wishes — all our best wishes," he added point- 
edly. 

" Sylvia," said Horace, still lingering, " be- 
fore I go tell me that, whatever I may have to 
do, you will understand that — that it will be 
for your sake." 

"Please don't talk like that," she said. 
" We may never see one another again. Don't 
let my last recollection of you be of — of a 
hypocrite, Horace." 

" A hypocrite? " he cried. " Sylvia, this is 
too much. "WTiat have I said or done to make 
you think me that? " 

" Oh, I am not so simple as you suppose, 

Horace," she replied. " I see now why all this 

has happened; why poor dad was tormented; 

why you insisted on my setting you free. But I 

would have released you without that. Indeed, 

all this elaborate artifice wasn't in the least 

necessary." 
17 



252 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

" You believe I was an accomplice in that 
old fool's plot? " he said. " You believe me 
such a cur as that? " 

" I donH blame you," she said. " I don't 
believe you could help yourself. He can make 
you do whatever he chooses. And then you are 
so rich now it is natural that you should want 
to marry some one — some one more suited to 
you — like this lovely princess of yours." 

" Of mine! " groaned the exasperated Hor- 
ace. " When I tell you Pve never even seen 
her. As if any princess in the world would 
marry me to please a Jinnee out of a brass 
bottle! And if she did, Sylvia, you can't be- 
lieve that any princess would make me forget 
you?" 

" It depends so very much on the princess," 
was all Sylvia could be induced to say. 

" Well," said Horace, " if that's all the faith 
you have in me, I suppose it's useless to say 
any more. Good-bye, Mrs. Futvoye; good-bye, 
professor. I wish I could tell you how deeply 
I regret all the trouble I have brought on you 
by my own folly. All I can say is that I will 
bear anything in future rather than expose you 
or any of you to the smallest risk." 

" I trust, indeed," said the professor stiffly, 
" that you will use all the influence at your com- 



"COMB, LET US KISS AND PART'' 258 

mand to secure me from any repetition of an 
experience that might well have unmanned a 
less equable temperament than my own." 

" Good-bye, Horace," said Mrs. Futvoye, 
more kindly. " I believe you are more to be 
pitied than blamed, whatever others may think. 
And / don't forget — if Anthony does — that, but 
for you, he might, instead of sitting there com- 
fortably in his arm-chair, be lashing out with 
his hind legs and kicking everything to pieces 
at this very moment." 

" I deny that I lashed out," said the profess- 
or. " My — ah — hind quarters may have been 
under imperfect control, but I never lost my 
reasoning powers or my good humour for a 
single instant. I can say that truthfully." 

If the professor could say that truthfully 
amid the general wreck in which he sat, like 
another Marius, he had little to learn in the 
gentle art of self-deception, but there was noth- 
ing to gain by contradicting him then. 

" Good-bye, Sylvia," said Horace, and held 
out his hand. 

" Good-bye," she said, without offering to 
take it or look at him, and, after a miserable 
pause, he left the study. But before he had 
reached the front door he heard a swish and 
swirl of drapery behind him, and felt her light 



254 THE BRASS BOTTLK 

hand on his arm. ^* Ah, no! " she said, clinging 
to him. " I can't let you go like this. . . • I 
didn't mean all the things I said just now. . . • 
I do believe in you, Horace — at least I'll try 
hard to. . . . And I shall always, always love 
you, Horace. ... I shan't care — ^very much — 
even if you forget me, so long as you are happy. 
. . . Only don't be too happy. . . , Think of 
me sometimes." 

" I shall not be too happy," he said, as he 
held her close to his heart and kissed her pa- 
thetically drawn mouth and flushed cheeks. 
" And I shall think of you always." 

" And you won't fall in love with your prin- 
cess? " entreated Sylvia, at the end of her altru- 
ism. "Promise!" 

" If I am ever provided with one," he re- 
plied, " I shall loathe her — ^for not being you. 
But don't let us lose heart, darling. There 
must be some way of talking that old idiot out 
of this nonsense and bringing him round to com- 
mon sense. I'm not going to give in just yet! " 

These were brave words, but, as they both 
felt, the situation had little enough to warrant 
them, and, after one last long embrace, they 
parted, and he was no sooner on the steps than 
he felt himself caught up as before and borne 
through the air with breathless speed, till he 



"COMB, LET US KISS AND PART" 255 

was set down, he could not have said how, in 
a chair in his own sitting-room at Vincent 
Square. 

" Well," he said, looking at the Jinnee, who 
was standing opposite with a smile of intolerable 
complacency, " I suppose you feel satisfied 
with yourself over this business? " 

" It hath indeed been brought to a favour- 
able conclusion," said Fakrash. " Well hath the 
poet written " 

" I don't think I can stand any more * ele- 
gant extracts ' this afternoon," interrupted 
Horace. " Let us come to business. You 
seem," he went on, with a strong effort to keep 
himself in hand, " to have formed some plan for 
marrying me to a king's daughter. May I ask 
you for full particulars? " 

" No honour and advancement can be in 
excess of thy deserts," answered the Jinnee. 

" Very kind of you to say so, but you are 
probably unaware that, as society is constituted 
at the present time, the objections to such an 
alliance would be quite insuperable." 

" For me," said the Jinnee, " few obstacles 
are insuperable. But speak thy mind freely." 

" I will," said Horace. " To begin with, no 
European princess of the blood royal would en- 
tertain the idea for a moment. And, if she did, 



856 THE BRASS BOTTL£ 

she would forfeit her rank and cease to be a 
princess, and I should probably be imprisoned 
in a fortress for lese-majesUy or something." 

" Dismiss thy fears, for I do ^ot propose to 
unite thee to any princess that is bom of mor- 
tals. The bride I intend for thee is a Jinnee- 
yeh — the peerless Bedeea-el-Jemal, daughter of 
my kinsman, Shahyal, the ruler of the Blue 
Jinn." 

" Oh, is she, though," said Horace blankly. 
" I'm exceedingly obliged, but whatever may 
be the lady's attractions " 

" Her nose," recited the Jinnee, with en- 
thusiasm, " is like unto the keen edge of a pol- 
ished sword, her hair resembleth jewels, and her 
cheeks are ruddy as wine. She hath heavy hips, 
and when she looketh aside she putteth to shame 
the wild cows." 

" My good, excellent friend," said Horace, 
by no means impressed by this catalogue of 
charms, "one doesn't marry to be protected 
from wild cows." 

" When she walketh with a vacillating 
gait," continued Fakrash, as though he had not 
been interrupted, "the willow branch itself 
tumeth green with envy." 

" Personally," said Horace, " a waddle 
doesn't strike me as particularly fascinating; 



"COMB, LET US KISS AND PAttT" 257 

it's quite a matter of taste. Do you happen to 
have seen this enchantress lately? " 

" My eyes have not been refreshed by her 
manifold beauties since I was inclosed by Suley- 
man — ^whose name be accursed!— in the brass 
bottle of which thou knowest. Why dost thou 
ask?'' 

"Merely because it occurred to me that, 
after very nearly three thousand years, your 
charming kinswoman may — ^well, to put it as 
mildly as possible — ^not have altogether escaped 
the usual effects of time. I mean, she must be 
getting on, you knowl " 

" O silly bearded one! " said the Jinnee, in 
half-scornful rebuke. " Art thou then ignorant 
that we of the Jinn are not as mortals, that we 
should feel the ravages of age? " 

" Forgive me if I'm personal," said Horace, 
" but surely your own hair and beard might 
be described as rather gray than any other 
colour." 

"Not from age," said Fakrash. "This 
cometh from long confinement." 

" I see," said Horace, " like the prisoner of 
Chillon.' Well, assuming that the lady in ques- 
tion is still in the bloom of early youth, I see 
one fatal difficulty to becoming her suitor." 

" Doubtless," said the Jinnee, " thou art re- 



258 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

ferrmg to Jarjarees, the son of Rejmoos, the 
son of Iblees? " 

"No, I wasn't," said Horace. "Because, 
you see, I don't remember having ever heard 
of hiuL However, he's another fatal difficulty. 
That makes two of them." 

" Surely I have spoken of him to thee as my 
deadliest foe I It is true that he is a powerful 
and vindictive Ef reet who hath long persecuted 
the beauteous Bedeea with hateful attentions. 
Yet it may be possible, by good fortune, to over- 
throw him." 

" Then I gather that any suitor for Bedeea's 
hand would be looked upon as a rival by the 
amiable Jarjarees? " 

" Far is he from being of an amiable disposi- 
tion," answered the Jinnee simply. " And he 
would be so transported by rage and jealousy 
that he would certainly challenge thee to mortal 
combat." 

"Then that settles it," said Horace. "I 
don't think any one can fairly call me a coward, 
but I do draw the line at fighting an Efreet for 
the hand of a lady I've never seen. How do 
I know he'd fight fair? '^ 

" He would probably appear unto thee first 
in the form of a lion, and if he could not thus 
prevail against thee, transform himself into a 



"COME, LET US KISS AND PART" 269 

serpent) and then into a buffalo, or some other 
wild beast.'' 

"And I should have to tackle the entire 
menagerie?" said Horace. "Why, my dear 
sir, I should never get beyond the lion." 

" I would assist thee to assume similar trans- 
formations," said the Jinnee, " and thus thou 
mayst be enabled to defeat him. For I burn 
with desire to behold mine enemy reduced to 
cinders." 

" It's much more likely that you would have 
to sweep me up," said Horace, who had a strong 
conviction that anything in which the Jinnee 
was concerned would be bungled somehow. 
" And if you're so anxious to destroy this Jar- 
jarees, why don't you challenge him to meet 
you in some quiet place in the desert and settle 
him yourself? It's much more in your line than 
it is in mine." 

He was not without hopes that Fakrash 
would act on this suggestion, and that so he 
would be relieved of him in the simplest and 
most satisfactory way, but any such hopes were, 
as usual, doomed to disappointment. 

" It would be of no avail," said the Jinnee, 
" for it hath been written of old that Jarjarees 
shall not perish save by the hand of a mortal. 
And I am persuaded that thou wilt turn out to 



260 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

be that mortal, since thou art both strong and 
fearless; and, moreover, it is predestined also 
that Bedeea shall wed one of the sons of men." 

" Then," said Horace, feeling that this line 
of defence must be abandoned, " I fall back 
on objection number one. Even if Jarjarees 
were obliging enough to retire in my favour, 
I should still decline to become the — a — con- 
sort of a Jinneeyeh whom Fve never seen and 
don't love." 

" Thou hast heard of her incomparable 
charms, and verily the ear may love before the 
eye." 

" It may," admitted Horace, " but neither 
of my ears is the least in love at present." 

" These reasons are of no value," said Fak- 
rash, " and if thou hast none better " 

" Well," said Ventimore, " I think I have. 
You profess to be anxious to — to requite the 
trifling service I rendered you, though hitherto, 
you'll admit yourself, you haven't made a very 
brilliant success of it. But, putting the past 
aside," he continued, with a sudden dryness in 
his throat, " putting the past aside, I ask you 
to consider what possible benefit or happiness 
such a match as this — I'm afraid I'm not so 
fortunate as to secure your attention," he broke 
off, as he observed the Jinnee's eyes beginning 



"COME, LET US KISS AND PART" 261 

to film over in the disagreeable manner chara'c- 
teristic of certain birds. 

"Proceed!" said Fakrash, nnskinning his 
eyes for a second. " I am hearkening unto 
thee." 

" It seems to me," stammered Horace incon- 
sequcntly enough, " that all that time inside a 
bottle — well, you canH call it experience exact- 
ly — and possibly in the interval you've forgot- 
ten all you knew about feminine nature. I 
think you must have." 

"It is not possible that such knowledge 
should be forgotten," said the Jinnee, resenting 
this imputation in quite a human way. " Thy 
words appear to me to lack sense. Interpret 
them, I pray thee." 

" Why," explained Horace, " you don't 
mean to tell me that this young and lovely rela- 
tion of yours, a kind of immortal, and — and 
with the devil's own pride, would be gratified 
by your proposal to bestow her hand upon an 
insignificant and unsuccessful London architect? 
She'd turn up that sharp and polished nose of 
hers at the mere idea of so unequal a match." 

"An excellent rank is that conferred by 
wealth," remarked the Jinnee. 

" But Fm not rich, and I've already declined 
any riches from you," said Horace. " And, 



262 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

what's more to the point, I'm perfectly and 
hopelessly obscure. If you had the slightest 
sense of humour — ^which I fear you have not — 
you would at once perceive the absurdity of pro- 
posing to unite a radiant ethereal superhuman 
being to a conmionplace professional nonentity 
in a morning coat and a tall hat. » • • It's really 
too ridiculous 1 " 

" What thou hast just said is not altogether 
without wisdom," said Fakrash, to whom this 
was evidently a new point of view* " Art thou 
indeed so utterly unknown? " 

" Unknown? " repeated Horace. " I should 
rather think I was. I'm simply an inconsider- 
able unit in the population of the vastest city in 
the world. Or, rather, not a unit — a cipher. 
And, don't you see, a man to be worthy of your 
exalted kinswoman ought to be a celebrity. 
There are plenty of them about." 

" What meanest thou by a celebrity? " in- 
quired Fakrash, falling into the trap more 
readily than Horace had ventured to hope. 

" Oh, well, a distinguished person whose 
name is on everybody's lips, who is honoured 
and praised by all his fellow citizens. Now 
that kind of man no Jinneeyeh could look down 
upon." 

" I perceive," said Fakrash thoughtfully. 



"COME, LET US KISS AND PART" 

*^Yes, I was in danger of committing a rash 
action. How do men honour such distinguished 
individuals in these days? " 

" They generally overfeed them," said Hor- 
ace. "In London the highest honour a hero 
can be paid is to receive the freedom of the 
city, which is only conferred in very exceptional 
cases and for some notable service. But, of 
course, there are other sorts of celebrities, as 
you could see if you glanced through the so- 
ciety papers." 

" I can not believe that thou, who seemest 
a gracious and talented young man, can be in- 
deed so obscure as thou hast represented." 

" My good sir, any of the flowers that blush 
unseen in the desert air, or the gems concealed 
in ocean caves, so excellently described by one 
of our poets, could give me points and a beating 
in the matter of notoriety. 1^11 make you a 
sporting offer. There are over five million in- 
habitants in this London of ours. If you go 
out into the streets, and ask the first five hun- 
dred you meet whether they know me, I donH 
mind betting you — ^what shall I say, a new hat? 
— that you won't find half a dozen who've ever 
even heard of my existence. Why not go out 
and see for yourself? " 

To his surprise and gratification the Jinnee 



^64 '^^ BRASS BOTTLE 

took this suggestion seriously. " I will go and 
make inquiry," he said, " for I desire further 
enlightenment concerning thy statements. But 
remember," he added, " should I still require 
thee to wed the matchless Bedeea-el-Jemal, and 
thou shouldst disobey me, thou wilt bring dis- 
aster, not on thine own head, but on those thou 
art most desirous of protecting." 

" Yes, so you told me before," said Horace 
brusquely. " Good evening." But Fakrash 
was already gone. 

In spite of all he had gone through, and the 
unknown difficulties before him, Ventimore was 
seized with what Uncle Kemus calls " a spell 
of the dry grins " at the thought of the probable 
replies that the Jinnee would meet with in the 
course of his inquiries. " I'm afraid he won't 
be particularly impressed by the politeness of a 
London crowd," he thought; "but at least 
they'll convince him that I am not exactly a 
prominent citizen. Then he'll give up this 
idiotic match of his. ... I don't know, though. 
He's such a pig-headed old fool that he may 
stick to it all the same. I may find myself en- 
cumbered with a Jinneeyeh bride several cen- 
turies my senior before I know where I am. 
No, I forgot; there's the jealous Jarjarees to be 
polished ofE first. I seem to remember some- 



"COME, LET US KISS AND PART" 205 

thing about a quick-change combat with an 
Efreet in the Arabian Nights. I may as 
well look it up, and see what may be in store 
for me/' 

And after dinner he went to his shelves and 
took down Lane's three-volume edition of the 
Arabian Nights, which he set himself to study 
with a new interest. It was long since he had 
looked into these wondrous tales, old beyond all 
human calculation, and fresher, even now, than 
the most modem of successful romances. After 
all, he was tempted to think, they might pos- 
sess quite as much historical value as many 
works with graver pretensions to accuracy. 

He found a full account of the combat with 
the Efreet in the Story of the Second Royal 
Mendicant, in the first volume, and was unpleas- 
antly surprised to discover that the Efreet's 
name was actually given as " Jarjarees, the son 
of Rejmoos, the son of Iblees " — evidently the 
same person to whom Fakrash had refen-ed as 
his bitterest foe. He was described as " of 
hideous aspect," and had, it seemed, not only 
carried off the daughter of the lord of the 
Eljony Island on her wedding night, but, on 
discovering her in the society of the Royal Men- 
dicant, had revenged himself by striking off 
her hands, her feet, and her head, and trans- 



266 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

forming his hmnan rival into an ape. '^ Be- 
tween this fellow and old Fakrash/' he reflected 
ruefully at this point, ^' I seem likely to have 
a fairly lively time of it." 

He read on till he reached the memorable 
encounter between the king's daughter and Jar- 
jarees, who presented himself " in a most hide- 
ous shape, with hands like winnowing forks, and 
legs like masts, and eyes like burning torches,'* 
which was calculated to unnerve the stoutest 
novice. The Ef reet began by transforming him- 
self from a lion to a scorpion, upon which the 
princess became a serpent; then he changed 
to an eagle, and she to a vulture; he to a black 
cat, and she to a wolf; he to a burst pomegran- 
ate, and she to a cock; he to a fish, and she to 
a larger fish still. 

" If Fakrash can shove me through all that 
without a fatal hitch somewhere," Ventimore 
told himself, " I shall be agreeably disappointed 
in him." But, after reading a few more lines, 
he cheered up. For the Efreet finished as a 
flame, and the princess as a " body of fire." 
" And when we looked toward him," continued 
the narrator, "we perceived that he had be- 
come a heap of ashes." 

" Come," said Horace to himself. " That 
puts Jarjarees out of action, anyway. The odd 



"COMB, LET US KISS AND PABT'' 267 

tiling is that Fakrash should never have heard 
of iV' 

But, as he saw on reflection, it was not so 
very odd after all, as the incident had probably 
happened after the Jinnee had been consigned 
to his brass bottle, where intelligence of any 
kind would be most unlikely to reach him. 

He worked steadily through the whole of 
the second volume and part of the third; but, 
although he picked up a certain amount of in- 
. formation upon Oriental habits and modes of 
thought and speech which might come in use- 
fully later, it was not until he arrived at the 
twenty-fourth chapter of the third volume that 
his interest really revived. 

For the twenty-fourth chapter contained 
The Story of Seyf-el-Mulook and Bedeea-el- 
Jemal, and it was only natural that he should 
be anxious to know all that there was to know 
concerning the antecedents of one who might 
be his fiancee before long. He read eagerly. 

Bedeea, it appeared, was the lovely daugh- 
ter of Shahyal, one of the kings of the believing 
Jinn; her father — ^not Fakrash, as he had in- 
correctly asserted — ^had offered her in marriage 
to no less a personage than King Solomon him- 
self, who, however, had preferred the Queen of 

Sheba. Seyf , the son of the king of Egypt, 
18 



268 THB BRASS BOTTLE 

afterward fell desperately in love with Bedeea^ 
but she and her grandmother both declared that 
between mankind and the Jinn there could be 
no agreement. 

"And Seyf was a king's son," commented 
Horace. "I neednH alarm myself. She 
wouldn't be likely to have anything to say to 
me. It's just as I told Fakrash." 

His heart grew lighter still as he came to 
the end, for he learned that, after many ad- 
ventures which need not be mentioned here, 
the devoted Seyf did actually succeed in gain- 
ing the proud Bedeea as his wife. " Even Fak- 
rash could not propose to marry me to some one 
who has a husband already," he thought. 
" Still, she may be a widow." 

To his relief, however, the conclusion ran 
thus: " Seyf-el-Mulook lived with Bedeea-el- 
Jemal a most pleasant and agreeable life • . > 
until they were visited by the terminator of 
delights and the separator of companions." 

"If that means anything at all," he rea- 
soned, " it means that Seyf and Bedeea are 
both deceased. Even a Jinneeyeh seems to be 
mortal. Or perhaps she became so by marrying 
a mortaL I dare say that Fakrash himself 
wouldn't have lasted all this time if he hadn't 
been bottled, like a tinned tomato. But I'm 



«CX)MB, LET US KISS AND PART" 

glad I found all this out, because Fakrash is 
evidently unaware of it^ and, if he should persist 
in any more of this nonsense, I think I see my 
way now to getting the better of him." 

So, with renewed hope and in vastly im- 
proved spirits, he went to bed and was soon 
sound asleep. 



CHAPTER XV 

BLUSHING HONOURS 

It was rather late the next morning when 
Ventimore opened his eyes, to discover the Jin- 
nee standing by the foot of his bed. " Oh, it's 
you J is it? '' he said sleepily. *^ How did you — 
a — get on last night? ^^ 

"I gained such information as I desired," 
said Fakrash guardedly; " and now, for the last 
time, I am come to ask thee whether thou wilt 
still persist in refusing to wed the illustrious 
Bedeea-el-Jemal. And have a care how thou 
answerest." 

" So you havenH given up the idea? " said 
Horace. " Well, since you make such a point 
of it, I'll meet you as far as this: If you pro- 
duce the lady, and she consents to marry me, 
I won't decline the honour. But there's one 
condition I really must insist on." 

"It is not for thee to make stipulations. 
Still, yet this once I will hear thee." 

" I'm sure you'll see that it's only fair. Sup- 
270 



BLUSHING HONOURS 271 

poeing, for any reason, you canH persuade the 
princess to meet me within a reasonable time — 
shall we say a week? " 

" Thou shalt be admitted to her presence 
within twenty-four hours," said the Jinnee. 

" That's better still. Then, if I don't see 
her within twenty-four hours, I am to be at 
liberty to infer that the negotiations are off, 
and I may marry anybody else I please without 
any opposition from you. Is that understood? " 

" It is agreed," said Fakrash. " For I am 
confident that Bedeea will accept thee joy- 
fully." 

"We shall see," said Horace. "But it 
might be as well if you went and prepared her 
a little. I suppose you know where to find 
her, and youVe only twenty-four hours, you 
know." 

" More than is needed," answered the Jin- 
nee, with such childlike confidence that Horace 
felt almost ashamed of so easy a victory. " But 
the sun is already high. Arise, my son, put on 
these robes" — and with this he flung on the 
bed the magnificent raiment which Ventimore 
had last worn on the night of his disastrous en- 
tertainment — " and when thou hast broken thy 
fast prepare to accompany me." 

" Before I agree to that," said Horace, sit- 



272 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

ting up in bed, " I should like to know where 
you're taking me to." 

" Obey me without demur," said Fakrash, 
" or thou knowest the consequences." 

It seemed to Horace that it was as well 
to humour him, and he got up accordingly, 
washed and shaved, and, putting on his dazzling 
robe of cloth of gold thickly sown with gems, 
he joined Fakrash — ^who, by the way, was simi- 
larly, if less gorgeously, arrayed — ^in the sitting- 
room, in a state of some mystification. 

"Eat quickly," commanded the Jinnee, 
" for the time ia short " ; and Horace, after 
hastily disposing of a cold poached egg and a 
cup of coffee, happened to go to the windows. 

"Good heavens 1 " he cried. "What does 
all this mean? " 

He might well ask. On the opposite side of 
the road, by the railings of the Square, a large 
crowd had collected, all staring at the house in 
eager expectation. As they caught sight of him 
they raised a cheer which caused him to retreat 
in confusion, but not before he had seen a great 
golden chariot with six magnificent coal-black 
horses and a suite of swarthy attendants in bar- 
baric liveries standing by the pavement below. 
" Whose carriage is that? " he asked. 

" It belongs to thee," said the Jinnee. " De- 



BLUSfllNa HONOUBS 273 

Bcend, then^ and make thy progress in it through 
the City." 

" I will not," said Horace, " even to oblige 
you. I simply canH drive along the streets in 
a thing like the band chariot of a travelling 
circus." 

"It is necessary," declared Fakrash. "Must 
I again recall to thee the penalty of disobedi- 
ence?" 

"Oh, very well," said Horace irritably. "If 
you insist on my making a fool of myself, I sup- 
pose I must. But where am I to drive, and 
why?" 

" That," replied Fakrash, " thou shalt dis- 
cover at the fitting moment." And so, amid 
the shouts of the spectators, Yentimore climbed 
up into the strange-looking vehicle, while the 
Jinnee took his seat by his side. Horace had a 
parting glimpse of Mr. and Mrs. Rapkin's re- 
spective noses flattened against the basement 
window, and then two dusky slaves mounted to 
a seat at the back of the chariot, and the horses 
started oflf at a stately trot in the direction of 
Rochester Row. 

" I think you might tell me what all this 
means," he said. " You've no conception what 
an ass I feel stuck up here like this." 

"Dismiss bashfulness from thee, since all 



274 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

this is designed to render thee more acceptable 
in the eyes of the Princess Bedeea/' said the 
Jinnee. 

Horace said no more, though he conld not 
but think that this parade would be thrown 
away. 

But, as they turned into Victoria Street and 
seemed to be heading straight for the Abbey, a 
horrible thought occurred to him. After all, 
his only authority for the marriage and decease 
of Bedeea was the Arabian Nights, which was 
not unimpeachable evidence. What if she were 
alive and waiting for the arrival of the bride- 
groom? No one but Fakrash would have con- 
ceived such an idea as marrying him to a 
Jinneyeh in Westminster Abbey, but he was 
capable of any extravagance, and there were 
apparently no limits to his power. 

"Mr. Fakrash," he said hoarsely, "surely 
this isn't my — ^my wedding day? You're not 
going to have the ceremony there? " 

"Nay,'' said the Jinnee. "Be not impa- 
tient. For this edifice would be totally unfitted 
for the celebration of such nuptials as thine." 

As he spoke the chariot left the Abbey on 
the right and turned down the Embankment. 
The relief was so intense that Horace's spirits 
rose irrepressibly. It was absurd to suppose 



BLUSHING HONOUBS 275 

that even Fakrash could have arranged the cere- 
mony in so short a time. He was merely being 
taken for a drive^ and fortunately his best 
friends could not recognise him in his Oriental 
disguise. And it was a glorious morning, with 
a touch of frost in the air and a sky of streaky 
turquoise and pale golden clouds; the broad 
river glittered in the sunshine; the pavements 
were lined with admiring crowds, and the car- 
riage rolled on amid frantic enthusiasm, like 
some triumphal car. 

"How they're cheering usl " said Horace. 
"Why, they couldn't make more row for the 
Lord Mayor himself." 

" What is this Lord Mayor of whom thou 
speakest? " inquired Fakrash. 

" The Lord Mayor? " said Horace. " Oh, 
he's unique. There's nobody in the world 
quite like him. He administers the law, and 
if there's any distress in any part of the earth 
he relieves it. He entertains monarchs and 
princes and all kinds of potentates at his ban- 
quets, and altogether he's a tremendous 
swell." 

" Hath he dominion over the earth and the 
air and all that is therein? " 

"Within his own precincts I believe he 
has," said Horace rather hazily, " but I really 



276 I'HE BRASS BOTTLE 

don^t know precisely how wide his powers are." 
He was vainly trying to recollect whether such 
matters as sky signs, telephones, and telegraphs 
in the City were within the Lord Mayor's.juris- 
diction or the county counciFs. 

Fakrash remained silent till just as they 
were driving underneath Charing Cross Railway 
Bridge, when he started perceptibly at the 
thunder of the trains overhead and the piercing 
whistles of the engines. " Tell me," he said, 
clutching Horace by the arm, " what meaneth 
this?" 

"Tou donH mean to say," said Horace, 
" that you have been about London all these 
days and never noticed things like these be- 
fore?" 

" Till now," said the Jinnee, " I have had 
no leisure to observe them and discover their 
nature." 

" Well," said Horace, anxious to let the Jin- 
nee see that he had not the monopoly, of mira- 
cles, " since your day we have discovered how 
to tame or chain the great forces of Nature and 
compel them to do our will. We control the 
spirits of earth, air, fire, and water, and make 
them give us light and heat, carry our messages, 
fight our quarrels for us, transport us wherever 
we wish to go — all with a certainty and precision 



BLUSHING HONOURS 277 

that throw even your performances, my dear 
sir, entirely into the shade/' 

Considering what a very large majority of 
civilized persons would be as powerless to con- 
struct the most elementary machine as to create 
the humblest kind of horse, it is not a little odd 
how complacently we credit ourselves with all 
the latest achievements of our generation. Most 
of us accept the amazement of the simple- 
minded barbarian on .his first introduction to 
modem inventions as a gratifying personal trib- 
ute; we feel a certain superiority, even if we 
magnanimously refrain from boastfulness. And 
yet our own particular share in these discoveries 
is limited to making use of them under expert 
guidance, which any barbarian, after overcom- 
ing his terror, is quite as competent to do as 
we are. 

It ia a harmless vanity enough, and espe- 
cially pardonable in Ventimore's case, when it 
was so desirable to correct any tendency to " up- 
pishness '* on the part of the Jinnee. 

" And doth the Lord Mayor dispose of these 
forces at his will? *' inquired Fakrash, on whom 
Ventimore's explanation had evidently produced 
some impression. 

"Certainly," said Horace, "whenever he 
has occasion." 



278 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

The Jinnee seemed engrossed in his own 
thoughts, for he said no more just then. 

They were now nearing St Paul's Cathe- 
draly and Horace's first suspicion returned with 
double force. 

" Mr. Fakrash, answer me," he said. " Is 
this my wedding day or not? If it is, it's time 
I was told." 

" Not yet," said the Jinnee enigmatically, 
and indeed it proved to be another false alarm, 
for they turned down Cannon Street and toward 
the Mansion House. 

" Perhaps you can tell me why we're going 
through Victoria Street, and what all this crowd 
has come out for? " asked Ventimore. For the 
throng was denser than ever; the people surged 
and swayed in serried ranks behind the City 
police, and gazed with a wonder and awe that 
for once seemed to have entirely silenced the 
cockney instinct of persiflage. 

" For what else but to do thee honour," an- 
swered Fakrash. 

" What bosh I " said Horace. " They mis- 
take me for the Shah or somebody — and no won- 
der, in this get-up." 

" Not so," said the Jinnee. " Thy names 
are familiar to them." 

Horace glanced up at the hastily improvised 



BLUSHINa HONOURS 279 

decorations; on one large strip of bunting which 

spanned the street he read: " Welcome to the 

City's Most Distinguished Guest!" "They 

can't mean me," he thought; and then another 

legend caught his eye: "Well Done, Venti- 

morel " And an enthusiastic householder next 

door had burst into poetry and displayed the 

couplet: . 

** Would we bad twenty more 
Like Horace Ventimore t ** 

" They do mean me I " he exclaimed. " Now, 
Mr. Fakrash, will you kindly explain what tom- 
foolery you've been up to now? I know you're 
at the bottom of this business." 

It struck him that the Jinnee was slightly 
embarrassed. " Didst thou not say," he replied, 
" that he who should receive the freedom of the 
City from his f ellowmen would be worthy of 
Bedeea-el-Jemal? " 

" I may have said something of the sort. 
. . • But, good heavens, you don't mean that 
you have contrived that I should receive the 
freedom of the City? " 

" It was the easiest aflFair possible," said the 
Jinnee, but he did not attempt to meet Hor- 
ace's eye. 

" Was it, though? " said Horace, in a white 
rage. " I don't want to be inquisitive, but I 



280 THE BRASS BOTTLB 

should like to know what Fve done to de- 
serve it." • 

" Why trouble thyself with the reason? Let 
it suffice thee that such honour is bestowed upon 
thee." 

By this time the chariot had crossed Cheap- 
side and was entering King Street 

"This really won't do," urged Horace. 
" It's not fair to me. Either Fve done some- 
thing or you must have made the Corporation 
believe I've done something to be received like 
this. And, as we shall be in the Guildhall in a 
very few seconds, you may as well tell me what 
it is." 

" Begarding that matter," replied the Jin- 
nee, in some confusion, " I am truly as ignorant 
as thyself." 

As he spoke they drove through some tem- 
porary wooden gates into the court-yard, where 
the Honourable Artillery Company presented 
arms to them, and the carriage drew up before 
a large marquee decorated with shields and clus- 
tered banners. 

" Well, Mr. Fakrash," said Horace with sup- 
pressed fury, as he alighted, "you have sur- 
passed yourself this time. You've got me into 
a nice scrape, and you'll have to pull me through 
it as well as you can." 



BLUSHING HONOUBS 281 

'^ Have no uneasiness/' said the Jinnee^ as 
he accompanied his protege into the marquee^ 
which was brilliant with pretty women in smart 
frocks^ officers in scarlet tunics and plumed hats, 
and servants in state liveries. Their entrance 
was greeted by a politely subdued buzz of ap- 
plause and admiration, and an official who in- 
troduced himself as the Prime Warden of the 
Candlestickmakers Company advanced to meet 
them. " The Lord Mayor will receive you in 
the Library," he said, "if you will have the 
kindness to follow me." 

Horace followed him mechanically. "Fm 
in for it now," he thought, " whatever it is. If 
I can only trust Fakrash to back me up, but Tm 
hanged if I don't believe he's more nervous 
than I am." 

As they came into the noble Library of the 
Guildhall a fine string band struck up, and Hor- 
ace, with the Jinnee in his rear, made his way 
through a lane of distinguished spectators to- 
ward a daSSy on the steps of which, in his gold- 
trimmed robes and black-feathered hat, stood 
the Lord Mayor with his sword- and mace-bear- 
ers on either hand, and behind him a row of 
beaming sheriffs. 

A truly stately and imposing figure did the 
Chief Magistrate for that particular year pre- 



THE BBASS BOTTLE 

sent. Tally dignified, mth a lofty forehead 
whose polished temples reflected the light, an 
aquiline nose and piercing black eyes under 
heavy white eyebrows, a frosty pink in hi3 
wrinkled cheeks, and a flowing silver beard with 
a touch of gold still lingering under the lower 
lip, he seemed, as he stood there, a worthy repre- 
sentative of the greatest and richest city in the 
world. 

Horace approached the steps with an un- 
pleasant sensation of weakness at the knees, and 
no sort of idea what he was expected to do or 
say when he arrived. 

And, in his perplexity, he turned for support 
and guidance to his self-constituted mentor, only 
to discover that the Jinnee, whose short-sighted- 
ness and ignorance had planted him in his pres- 
ent false position, had mysteriously and per- 
fidiously disappeared, and left him to grapple 
with the situation single-handed. 



CHAPTER XVI 

A KILLINQ FB08T 

FoBTUNATELY fop Ventimore, the momen- 
tary dismay he had felt on finding himself de- 
serted by his incomprehensible Jinnee at the 
very outset of the ceremony passed unnoticed^ 
as the Prime Warden of the Candlestickmakers 
Company immediately came to his rescue by 
briefly introducing him to the Lord Mayor, who, 
with dignified courtesy, had descended to the 
lowest step of the dais to receive him. 

"Mr. Ventimore," said the Chief Magis- 
trate cordially, as he pressed Horace's hand, 
" you must allow me to say that I consider this 
one of the greatest privileges — ^if not the great- 
est privilege — ^that have fallen to my lot during 
a term of office in which I have had the honour 
of welcoming more than the usual number of 
illustrious visitors.*' 

"My Lord Mayor," said Horace, with ab- 
solute sincerity, " you really overwhelm me. I 
— ^I only wish I could feel that I had done any- 
19 388 



284 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

tblng to deserve this— this magnificent compli* 
ment.*' 

"Ahl" replied the Lord Mayor, in a pa- 
ternally rallying tone. " Modest, my dear sir, 
I perceive. Like all truly great menl A most 
admirable trait I Permit me to present you to 
the sheriffs.'' 

The sheriffs appeared highly delighted. 
Horace shook hands with all of them; indeed, 
in the flurry of the moment he very nearly 
offered to do so with the sword- and mace-bearers 
as well, but their hands were, as it happened, 
otherwise engaged. 

"The actual presentation," said the Lord 
Mayor, " takes place in the Great Hall, as you 
are doubtless aware." 

" I — ^I have been given to understand so," 
said Horace, with a sinking heart, for he had 
begun to hope that the worst was over. 

"But before we adjourn," said his host, 
" you will let me tempt you to partake of some 
slight refreshment — ^just a snack? " 

Horace was not hungry, but it occurred to 
him that he might get through the ceremony* 
with more credit after a glass of champagne, 
so he accepted the invitation and was conducted 
to an extemporized buffet at one end of the 
Library, where he fortified himself for the im- 



A EILLIKa FROST 

pending ordeal with a caviare sandwich and a 
bumper of the driest champagne in the Cor- 
poration cellars. 

" They talk of abolishing ns," said the Lord 
Mayor, as he took an anchovy on toast, " but I 
maintain, Mr. Ventimore — ^I maintain that we, 
with our ancient customs, our time-honoured 
traditions, form a link with the past which a 
wise statesman will preserve — ^if I may employ 
a somewhat vulgar term — ^untinkered with." 

Horace agreed, remembering a link with a 
far more ancient past with which he devoutly 
wished he had refrained from tinkering. 

"Talking of ancient customs," the Lord 
Mayor continued, with an odd blend of pride 
and apology, " you will shortly have an illustra- 
tion of our antiquated procedure which may im- 
press you as quaint." 

Horace, feeling absolutely idiotic, mur- 
mured that he felt sure it would do that. 

"Before presenting you for the freedom, 
the Prime Warden and five officials of the Can- 
dlestickmakers Company will give their testi- 
mony as compurgators in your favour, making 
oath that you are * a man of good name and 
fame,' and that (you will be amused at this, Mr. 
Ventimore) — that you * do not desire the free- 
dom of this City whereby to defraud the Queen 



THB BRASS BOTTLE 

or the City/ Ha-ha I curious way of putting 
it, is it not?" 

"Very," said Horace guiltily, and not a 
little concerned on the officials' account. 

" A mere form," said the Lord Mayor; " but 
I, for one, Mr. Ventimore — ^I, for one, should be 
sorry to see these picturesque old practices die 
out. To my mind," he added, as he finished a 
pate de foie gras sandwich, " the modem im- 
patience to sweep away all the ancient land- 
marks (whether they be superannuated or not) 
is one of the most disquieting symptoms of the 
age. You wonH have any more champagne? 
Then I think we had better be making our way 
to the Great Hall for the event of the day." 

"Fm afraid," said Horace, with a sudden 
consciousness of his Oriental attire, " I'm afraid 
this is not quite the sort of dress for such a cere- 
mony. K I had known " 

" Now don't say another word," said the 
Lord Mayor. "Your costume is very nice — 
very nice, indeed — and — and most appropriate, 
I am sure. But I see the city marshal is wait- 
ing for us to head the procession. Shall we 
lead the way? " 

The band struck up the March of the Priests 
from Athalie, and Horace, his head in a whirl, 
walked with his host, followed by the City Lands 



A EILUKG FBOST 287 

Committee^ the aheriffsy and other dignitariesy 
through the Art Gallery and into the Great 
Hall, where their entrance was heralded by a 
fionrish of trumpets. 

The hall was crowded, and Yentimore found 
himself the object of a popular demonstration 
which would have filled him with joy and pride 
if he could only have felt that he had done any- 
thing whatever to justify it, for it was ridicu- 
lous to suppose that he had rendered himself a 
public benefactor by restoring a convicted Jin- 
nee to freedom and society generally. His only 
consolation was that the English are a race not 
given to effusiveness without very good reason, 
and that he would find out before the ceremony 
was over what were the particular services 
which had excited so much enthusiasm. 

Meanwhile he stood there on the crimson- 
draped and flower-bedecked dais, bowing repeat- 
edly and trusting that he did not look so for- 
lornly foolish as he felt. A long shaft of sun- 
light struck down between the Gothic rafters 
and dappled the brown stone-walls with patches 
of gold; the electric lights in the big-hooped 
chandeliers showed pale and feeble against the 
subdued glow of the stained glass; the air was 
heavy with the scent of flowers and essences; 
there was a rustle of expectation in the audi- 



288 THB BRASS BOTTLE 

ence, and a pause in which it seemed to Horace 
that everybody on the dais was ahnoet as nervous 
and at a loss what to do as he was himself. He 
wished with all his soul that they would hurry 
the ceremony through anyhow and let him go. 

At length the proceedings began by a sort 
of solemn affectation of having merely met 
there for the ordinary business of the day, 
which, to Horace just then, seemed childish in 
the extreme; it was resolved that " items one to 
four on the agenda need not be discussed," 
which brought them to item five. 

Item five was a resolution, read by the town 
clerk, that " the freedom of the City should be 
presented to Horace Ventimore, Esquire, Citi- 
zen and Candlestickmaker '' (which last Horace 
was not aware of being, but supposed vaguely 
that it had been somehow managed while he 
was at the buffet in the Library) " in recognition 
of his services " — the resolution ran, and Horace 
listened with all his ears — " especially in con- 
nection with — " It was most unfortunate, 
but at this precise point the official was seized 
with an attack of coughing, in which all was 
lost but the conclusion of the sentence — 
" that have justly entitled him to the gratitude 
and admiration of his fellow-countrymen/^ 

Then the six compurgators came forward 



A KILLING FROST 

and vouched for Ventimore's fitness to receive 
the freedom. He had painful doubts whether 
they altogether understood what a responsibility 
they were undertaking, but it was too late to 
warn them, and he could only trust that they 
knew more of their business than he did. 

After this the city chamberlain read him 
an address, to which Horace listened in resigned 
bewilderment. The chamberlain referred to 
the unanimity and enthusiasm with which the 
resolution had been carried, and said that it was 
his pleasing and honourable duty, as the mouth- 
piece of that ancient City, to address what he 
described with some inadequacy as " a few 
words '* to one, by adding whose name to their 
roll of freemen the Corporation honoured 
rather themselves than the recipient of their 
homage. 

It was flattering, but to Horace's ear the 
phrases sounded excessive — almost fulsome, 
though of course that depended very much 
on what he had done, which he had still to 
ascertain. 

The orator proceeded to read him the " illus- 
trious list of London's roll of fame," a recital 
which made Horace shiver with apprehension. 
For what names they were — ^what glorious deeds 
they had performed! How was it possible that 



290 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

he — plain Horace Ventimore, a struggling 
architect who had missed his one great chance — 
could have achieved (especially without even 
being aware of it) anything that would not seem 
ludicrously insignificant by comparison? 

He had a morbid fancy that the marble god- 
desses, or whoever they were, at the base of 
Nelson's Monument opposite were regarding 
him with stony disdain and indignation; that 
the statue of Wellington knew him for an arrant 
impostor and averted his head with cold con- 
tempt; and that the effigy of Lord Mayor Beck- 
ford on the right of the da'is would come to life 
and denounce him in another moment. 

"Turning now to your own distinguished 
services," he suddenly heard the city chamber- 
lain resuming, "you are probably aware, sir, 
that it is customary on these occasions to men- 
tion specifically the particular merit which has 
been deemed worthy of civic recognition." 

Horace was greatly relieved to hear it, for it 
struck him as a most sensible, and, in his own 
particular case, essential formality. 

"But, on the present occasion, sir," pro- 
ceeded the speaker, " I feel, as all present must 
feel, that it would be unnecessary — ^nay, almost 
impertinent — ^were I to weary the public ear by 
a halting recapitulation of deeds with which 



A KILLING PEOST 291 

it is already so appreciatively familiar." At 
this he was interrupted by deafening and long- 
continued applause, at the end of which he con- 
tinued: "I have only, therefore, to greet you 
in the name of the Corporation and to offer you 
the right hand of fellowship as a Freeman and 
Citizen and Candlestickmaker of London." 

As he shook hands he presented Horace with 
a copy of the oath of allegiance, intimating that 
he was to read it aloud. Naturally Ventimore 
had not the slightest objection to swear to be 
good and true to Our Sovereign Lady Queen 
Victoria, or to be obedient to the Lord Mayor, 
and warn him of any conspiracies against the 
Queen's peace which might chance to come 
under his observation, so he took the oath cheer- 
fully enough, and hoped that this was really the 
end of the ceremony. 

However, to his great chagrin and appre- 
hension, the Lord Mayor rose with the evident 
intention of making a speech. He said that the 
conclusion of the City to bestow the highest 
honour in their gift upon Mr. Horace Venti- 
more had been — here he hesitated — somewhat 
hastily arrived at. Personally he would have 
liked a longer time to prepare, to make the dis- 
play less inadequate to and worthier of this 
exceptional occasion. He thought that was the 



THE BRASS 60TTLB 

general feeling. (It evidently was, judging 
from the loud and unanimous cheering.) How- 
ever, for reasons which — ^reasons with which 
they were as well acquainted as himself, the 
notice had been short. The Corporation had 
yielded (as they always did, as it would always 
be their pride and pleasure to yield) to popular 
pressure which was practically irresistible, and 
had done the best they could in the limited — ^he 
might almost say the unprecedentedly limited — 
period allowed them. The proudest leaf in Mr. 
Ventimore's chaplet of laurek to^iay was, he 
would venture to assert, the sight of the ex- 
traordinary enthusiasm and assemblage, not 
only in that noble hall, but in the thoroughfares 
of this mighty metropolis. Under the circum- 
stances, this was a truly marvellous tribute to 
the admiration and aflFection which Mr. Venti- 
more had succeeded in inspiring in the great 
heart of the people, rich and poor, high and 
low. He would not detain his hearers any 
longer; all that remained for him to do was to 
ask Mr. Ventimore^s acceptance of a golden 
casket containing the roll of freedom, and he 
felt sure that his distinguished guest, before 
proceeding to inscribe his name on the regis- 
ter, would oblige them all by some account 
from his own lips of— of the events in which 



A KILLING FROST 293 

he had figured so prominently and so cred- 
itably. 

Horace received the casket mechanically; 
there was a universal cry of " Speech! " from 
the audience, to which he replied by shaking his 
head in helpless deprecation, but in vain; he 
found himself irresistibly pressed toward the 
rail in front of the dais, and the roar of applause 
which greeted him saved him from all neces- 
sity of attempting to speak for nearly two min- 
utes. 

During that interval he had time to clear his 
brain and think what he had better do or say 
in his present unenviable dilemma. For some 
time past a suspicion had been growing in his 
mind, until it had now almost swollen into cer- 
tainty. He felt that before he compromised 
himself, or allowed his too generous entertainers 
to compromise themselves irretrievably, it was 
absolutely necessary to ascertain his real posi- 
tion, and to do that he must make some sort of 
speech. With this resolve all his nervousness 
and embarrassment and indecision melted away; 
he faced the assembly coolly and gallantly, con- 
vinced that his best alternative now lay in per- 
fect candour. 

"My Lord Mayor, my lords, ladies, and 
gentlemen," he began, in a clear voice which 



294 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

penetrated to the farthest gallery and com- 
manded instant attention. ^^ If you expect to 
hear from me any description of what I've done 
to be received like this, I'm afraid you will be 
disappointed. For my own belief is that IVe 
done nothing whatever." 

There was a general outcry of " No, nol '^ 
at this, and a fervid murmur of protest. 

" It's all very well to say * no, no,' " said 
Horace, " and I am extremely grateful to you 
all for the interruption. Still I can only repeat 
that I am absolutely unaware of having ever 
rendered my country or this great City a single 
service deserving of the slightest acknowledg- 
ment. I wish I could feel I had, but the simple 
truth is that, if I have, the fact has entirely 
slipped from my memory." 

Again there were murmurs — ^this time with 
a certain undercurrent of irritation; and he 
could hear the Lord Mayor behind him remark- 
ing to the city chamberlain that this was not 
at all the kind of speech for the occasion. 

"I know what you're all thinking," said 
Horace. " You're thinking this is mock mod- 
esty on my part. But it's nothing of the sort 
/ don't know what I've done, but I presume you 
are all better informed. Because the Corpora- 
tion would not have given me that very charm- 



A KILLING PEOST 

ing casket and you would not all of you be here 
like this unless there were a strong impression 
that Fd done something to deserve it." At 
this there was a fresh outburst of applause. 

"Just so," said Horace calmly. "Well, 
now, will any of you be kind enough to tell me, 
in a few words, what you suppose Fve done? " 

There was a dead silence, in which every one 
looked at his or her neighbour and smiled feebly. 

" My Lord Mayor," continued Horace, " I 
appeal to you to tell me and this distinguished 
assembly why on earth we^re all here? " 

The Lord Mayor rose. " I think it sufficient 
to say," he announced, with dignity, " that the 
Corporation and myself were unanimously of 
opinion that this distinction should be awarded, 
for reasons which it is unnecessary and — ^hum — 
ha — ^invidious to enter into here ^" 

"I am sorry," persisted Horace, "but I 
must press your lordship for those reasons. I 
have an object. . . . Will the city chamberlain 
oblige me, then? . . . No? Well, then, the 
town clerk? . . . No, it's just as I suspected; 
none of you can give me your reasons, and shall 
I tell you why? Because there arenH any. . . . 
Now do bear with me for a moment. Fm quite 
aware this is very embarrassing for all of you, 
but remember that it's infinitely more awkward 



296 THB BRASS BOTTLE 

for met I really can not accept the freedom of 
the City under any suspicion of false pretences. 
It would be a poor reward for your hospitality, 
and base and unpatriotic into the bargain, to 
depreciate the value of so great a distinction by 
permitting it to be conferred unworthily. If, 
after youVe heard what I am going to tell you, 
you still insist on my accepting such an honour, 
of course I will not be so ungracious as to refuse 
it; but I really don't feel that it would be right 
to inscribe my name on your roll of fame with- 
out some sort of explanation. If I did, I might, 
for anything I know, involuntarily be signing 
the death-warrant of the Corporation.*' 

There was a breathless hush on this. The 
silence grew so intense that, to borrow a slightly 
involved metaphor from a distinguished friend 
of the writer, "you might have picked a pin 
up in it.*' Horace leaned sideways against the 
rail in an easy attitude, so as to face the Lord 
Mayor as well as a portion of his audience. 

" Before I go any farther," he said, " will 
your lordship pardon me if I suggest that it 
might be as well to direct that all reporters pres- 
ent should immediately withdraw? " 

The reporters' table was instantly in a stir 
of anger, and many of the guests expressed some 
dissatisfaction. " We, at least," said the Lord 



A KILLING FBOST 297 

Mayor, rising, flushed with annoyance, "have no 
reason to dread publicity. I decline to make 
a hole-and-corner affair of this. I shall give no 
such orders." 

" Very well," said Horace, when the chorus 
of approval had subsided. " My suggestion was 
made quite as much in the Corporation's in- 
terests as in mine. I merely thought that when 
you all clearly understood how grossly youVe 
been deluded you might prefer to have the de- 
tails kept out of the newspapers if possible. But 
if you particularly want them published over 
the whole world, why, of course " 

An uproar followed here, under cover of 
which the Lord Mayor contrived to give orders 
to have the doors fastened till further directions. 

"Don't make this more difficult and dis- 
agreeable for me than it is already," said Hor- 
ace, as soon as he could obtain a hearing again. 
"You don't suppose that I should have come 
here in this tomfool dress, imposing myself on 
the hospitality of this great City, if I could have 
helped it. If you've been brought here under 
false pretences, so have I. If you've been made 
to look rather foolish, what is your situation to 
mine? The fact is, I am the victim of a head- 
strong force which I am utterly unable to oon- 
trol . . ." 



THE BRASS BOTTLB 

Upon this a fresh uproar arose and for 
some time prevented him from continuing. " I 
only ask for fair play and a patient hearing/' 
he pleaded. " Give me that, and I will imder- 
take to restore you all to good humour before 
I have done." 

They calmed down at this appeal, and he 
was able to proceed. " My case is simply this," 
he said: ^^ A short time since, I happened to go 
to an auction and buy a large brass bottle " 

For some reason his last words roused the 
audience to absolute frenzy — they would not 
hear anything about the brass bottle; every time 
he attempted to mention it they howled him 
down; they hissed, they groaned, they shook 
their fists; the din was positively deafening. 

Nor was the demonstration confined to the 
male portion of the assembly. One lady, indeed, 
who is a prominent leader in society, but whose 
name shall not be divulged here, was so carried 
away by her feelings as to hurl a heavy cut- 
glass bottle of smelling-salts at Horace's un- 
fortunate head. Luckily for him, it missed 
him and only caught one of the officials (Horace 
was not in a mood to notice details very accu- 
rately, but he had a notion that it was the city 
remembrancer) somewhere about the region of 
the watch-pocket. 



A EILLINa FROST 299 

"WtH you hear me out?" Ventimoro 
shouted. " rm not trifling. I haven't told you 
yet what was inside the bottle. When I opened 
it, I found " 

He got no farther, for, as the words left his 
lips, he felt himself seized by the collar of his 
coat and lifted off his feet by an agency he was 
powerless to resist 

Up and up he was carried, past the great 
chandeliers, between the carved and gilded 
rafters, pursued by a universal shriek of dismay 
and horror. Down below he could see the 
throng of pale upturned faces, and hear the 
wild screams and laughter in violent hysterics of 
several ladies of great distinction. And the 
next moment he was in the glass lantern, and 
the latticed panes gave way like tissue-paper 
as he broke through into the outer air, causing 
the pigeons on the roof to whir up in a flutter 
of alarm. 

Of course he knew that it was the Jinnee 
who was abducting him in this sensational man- 
ner, and he was rather relieved than alarmed by 
Fakrash's summary proceeding, for he seemed 
for once to have hit upon the best way out of 
a situation that was rapidly becoming impossible. 



20 



CHAPTER XVn 

HIGH W0HD8 

Once outside in the open air, the Jinnee 
"towered" like a pheasant shot through the 
head, and Horace closed his eyes with a swing- 
switchback and channel-passage sensation dur- 
ing a flight which apparently continued for 
hours, although in reality it probably did not 
occupy more than a very few seconds. His un- 
easiness was still further increased by his in- 
ability to guess where he was being taken to, 
for he felt instinctively that they were not 
travelling in the direction of home. 

At last he felt himself set down on some 
hard, firm surface, and ventured to open his eyes 
once more. When he realized where he actually 
was, his knees gave way imder him, and he was 
seized with a sudden giddiness that very nearly 
made him lose his balance. 

For he found himself standing on a sort of 
narrow ledge or cornice just under the ball at 
the top of St. PauPs. 

800 



HIGH WORDS 301 

Many feet beneath him spread the dull 
leaden summit of the dome, its raised ridges 
stretched like huge serpents over the curve, 
beyond which was a glimpse of the green roof 
of the nave and the two west towers, with their 
gray columns and urn-topped buttresses, and 
gilded pine-apples which shone ruddily in the 
sun. 

He had an impression of Ludgate Hill and 
Fleet Street as a deep winding ravine, steeped 
in partial shadow; of long sierras of roofs and 
chimney-pots, showing their sharp outlines 
above mouse-coloured smoke wreaths; of the 
broad pearly tinted river, with oily ripples and 
a golden glitter where the sunlight touched it; 
of the gleaming slope of mud under the wharves 
and warehouses on the Surrey side; of the 
moored barges and steamers lying in black 
clusters; a small tug was fussing noisily down 
the river, leaving a broadening arrow-head in 
its wake. 

Cautiously he moved round toward the east, 
where the houses formed a broad mosaic of 
cream, slate, indigo, and dull reds and browns, 
above which slender rose-flushed spires and 
towers pierced the haze, stained in countless 
places by pillars of black, gray, and umber 
smoke, and lightened by plumes and jets of sil- 



THJS BRASS BOTTL£ 

very eteam, till all blended by imperceptible 
gradations into a sky of tenderest gold slashed 
with translucent blue. 

It was a magnificent view, and none the less 
60 because the indistinctness of all beyond a 
limited radius made the huge city seem not 
only mystical, but absolutely boundless in ex- 
tent. But, although Ventimore was distinctly 
conscious of all this, he was scarcely in a state 
to appreciate its grandeur just then. He was 
much too concerned with wondering why Fak- 
rash had chosen to plant him up there in so in- 
secure a position, and how he was ever to be 
rescued from it, since the Jinnee had apparently 
disappeared. 

He was not far off, however, for presently 
Horace saw him stalk round the narrow cornice 
with an air of being perfectly at home on it. 

" So there you are," said Ventimore. " I 
thought you'd deserted me again. What have 
you brought me up here for! " 

^^ Because I desired to have speech with thee 
in private,*' replied the Jinnee. 

" We're not likely to be intruded on here, 
certainly," said Horace. " But isn't it rather 
exposed — ^rather public? If we're seen up here, 
you know, it will cause a decided sensation." 

" I have laid a spell on all below that they 



HIGH WOBDS 60A 

should not raise their eyes. Be seated, there- 
fore, and hear my words." 

Horace lowered himself carefully to a sit- 
ting position, so that his legs dangled in space, 
and Fakrash took a seat by his side. ^^ O most 
indiscreet of mankind!" he began, in an ag- 
grieved tone. ^^ Thou hast been near the com- 
mittal of a great blunder, and doing ill to thee 
and to myself." 

" Well, I do like thatl " retorted Horace. 
*^ When you let me in for all the freedom of 
the city business, and then sneaked off, leaving 
me to get out of it the best way I could, and 
only came back just as I was about to explain 
matters, and carried me up through the roof by 
my coat collar 1 Do you consider that tactful 
on your part? " 

^' Thou hadst drunk wine and permitted it 
to creep as far as the place of secrets." 

"Only one glass," said Horace, "and I 
wanted it, I can assure you. I was obliged to 
make a speech to them, and, thanks to you, I 
was in such a hole that I saw nothing for it 
but to tell the truth." 

"Veracity, as thou wilt learn," answered 
the Jinnee, " is not invariably the ship of safety. 
Thou wert about to betray the benefactor who 
procured for thee such glory and honour aa 



804 THB BRASS BOTTLE 

might well cause the gall-bladder of lions to 
burst with envy." 

'^ If any lion with the least sense of humour 
could have witnessed the proceedings/' said 
Ventimore, " he might have burst with laugh- 
ter — certainly not envy. Good lord, Fakrash I " 
he cried, in his indignation, '^Fve never felt 
such an absolute ass in my whole life. If noth- 
ing would satisfy you but my receiving the free- 
dom of the city, you might at least have con- 
trived some decent excuse for it. But you left 
out the only point there was in the whole thing 
— ^and all for what? '* 

" What doth it signify why the whole popu- 
lace should come forth to acclaim thee and do 
thee honour, so long as they did sot " said Fak- 
rash sullenly. "For the report of thy fame 
would reach Bedeea-el-Jemal." 

" That's just where you're mistaken," said 
Horace. " If you had not been in too desperate 
a hurry to make a few inquiries, you would have 
found out that you are taking all this trouble 
for nothing." 

"How say est thou?" 

" Well, you would have discovered that the 
princess is spared all temptation to marry be- 
neath her by the fact that she became the bride 
of somebody else about thirty centuries ago. 



HIGH WORDS 805 

She married a mortal^ one Seyf-el-Mulook^ a 
king's son^ and they've both been dead a con- 
siderable time — another obstacle to your plans.'' 

^^ It is a lie I " declared Fakrash. 

"If you will take me back to Vincent 
Square, I shall be happy to show you the evi- 
dence in your national records," said Horace; 
" and you may be glad to know that your old 
enemy, Mr. Jarjarees, came to a violent end 
after a very sporting encounter with a king's 
daughter, who, though proficient in advanced 
magic, unfortunately perished herself, poor 
lady, in the final round." 

"I had intended thee to accomplish his 
downfall," said Fakrash. 

"I know," said Horace, "it was most 
thoughtful of you. But I doubt if I should have 
done it half so well, and it would have probably 
cost me an eye, at the very least. It's better 
as it is." 

" And how long hast thou known of these 
things?" 

" Only since last night." 

" Since last night? And thou didst not un- 
fold them unto me till this instant? " 

" I've had such a busy morning, you see," 
explained Horace. " There's been no time." 

" Silly bearded fool that I was to bring this 



806 THB BRASS BOTTLE 

misbegotten dog into the august presence of 
the great Lord Mayor himself — on whom be 
peace 1 " cried the Jinnee, 

^^ I object to being referred to as a misbe- 
gotten dog," said Horace, ^^ but with the rest 
of your remark I entirely concur. I'm afraid 
the Lord Mayor is very far from being at peace 
just now." He pointed to the steep roof of the 
Guildhall, with its dormers and fretted pin- 
nacles, and the slender lantern through which 
he had so lately made his inglorious exit. 
^^ There's the devil of a row going on under that 
lantern just now, Mr. Fakrash; you may depend 
upon that. They've locked the doors till they 
can decide what to do next, which will take 
them some time. And it's all your fault." 

" It was thy doing. Why didst thou dare 
to inform the Lord Mayor that he was de- 
ceived? " 

"Why? Because I thought he ought to 
know. Because I was bound, particularly after 
my oath of allegiance, to warn him of any con- 
spiracy against him. Because I was in such a 
hat. He'll understand all that — ^he won't blame 
me for this business." 

"It is fortunate," observed the Jinnee, 
" that I flew away with thee before thou couldst 
pronounce my name." 



HIGH WORDS 807 

"You gave yourself away/' said Horace. 
" They all saw you, you know. The/ll recog- 
nise you again. If you will carry off a man 
from under the Lord Mayor's very nose, and 
shoot up through the roof like a rocket with 
him, you can't expect to escape remark. You 
see, you happen to be the only unbottled Jinnee 
in the City." 

Pakrash shifted his seat on the cornice. " I 
have committed no act of disrespect unto the 
Lord Mayor," he said; " therefore he can have 
no just cause for anger against me." 

Horace perceived that the Jinnee was not 
altogether at ease, and pushed his advantage 
accordingly. 

" My dear, good old friend," he said, " you 
don't seem to realize yet what, an awful thing 
you've done. For your own mistaken purposes, 
you have compelled the Chief Magistrate and 
the Corporation of the greatest city in the world 
to make themselves hopelessly ridiculous. 
They'll never hear the last of this affair. Just 
look at the crowds waiting patiently below there. 
Look at the flags. Think of that gorgeous con- 
veyance of yours standing outside the Guild- 
hall. Think of the assembly inside — all the 
most aristocratic, noble, and distinguished per- 
sonages in the land," continued Horace, piling 



308 THB BRASS fiCyiTLB 

it on as he proceedecL ^ All collected for what? 
To be made fools of by a Jinnee out of a brass 
bottlel " 

"For their own sakes will they preserve 
silence/' said Fakrash, with a flash of unwonted 
shrewdness. 

" Probably they would hush it up, if they 
only could," conceded Horace. " But how can 
they? What are they to say? What plausible 
explanation can they give? Besides, there is 
the press; you don't know what the press is, 
but I assure you its power is tremendous — ^it's 
simply impossible to keep anything secret from 
it nowadays. It has eyes and ears everywhere 
and a thousand tongues. Five minutes after 
the doors in that hall are unlocked (and they 
can't keep them locked much longer) the re- 
porters will be handing in their special descrip- 
tions of you and your latest vagaries to their 
respective journals within half an hour. Bills 
will be carried through every quarter of Lon- 
don — ^bills with enormous letters: * Extraordi- 
nary Scene at the Guildhall! Strange End to 
a Civic Function! Startling Appearance of an 
Oriental Genie in the City! Abduction of a 
Guest of the Lord Mayor ! Latense Excitement I 
Full Particulars! ' And by that time the story 
will have flashed round the whole world. Keep 



HIGH W0BD3 809 

silence, indeed I Do you imagine for a moment 
that the Lord Mayor or anybody else concerned, 
however remotely, will ever forget or be allowed 
to forget such an outrageous incident as this! 
If you do, believe me you are mistaken.^' 

" Truly it would be a terrible thing to incur 
the wrath of the Lord Mayor," said the Jinnee, 
in troubled accents. 

"Awful,'* said Horace. "But you seem 
to have done it." 

" He weareth round his neck a magic jewel 
which giveth him dominion over devils — ^is it 
not so? " 

" You know best," said Horace. 

" It was the splendour of that jewel and the 
majesty of his countenance that rendered me 
afraid to enter his presence lest he should recog* 
nise me for what I am, and command me to 
obey him; for verily his might is greater even 
than Suleyman's and his hand heavier upon 
such of the Jinn as fall into his power." 

"If that's so," said Horace, "I should 
strongly advise you to find some way of putting 
things straight before it's too late. You've no 
time to lose." 

" Thou sayest well," said Fakrash, springing 
to his feet and turning his face toward Cheap- 
side. 



810 ^HE BRASS BOTTLE 

Horace shuffled himself along the ledge in a 
seated position after the Jinnee, and, looking 
down between his feet, could just see the tops 
of the thin and rusty trees in the churchyard, 
the black and serried swarms of foreshortened 
people in the street, and the scarlet-rimmed 
mouths of chimney-pots on the tiled roofs below. 

" There is but one remedy that I know," said 
the Jinnee. " And it may be that I have lost 
power to perform it. Yet will I make the en- 
deavour." And, stretching forth his right hand 
toward the east, he muttered some kind of com- 
mand or invocation. 

Horace almost fell off the cornice with ap- 
prehension of what might follow. Would it be 
a thunderbolt, a plague, some frightful convul- 
sion of Kature? He felt sure that Fakrash 
would hesitate at no means, however violent, of 
burying in oblivion all traces of his blunder, and 
very little hope that, whatever he did, it would 
prove anything but some worse indiscretion. 

However, none of these extreme measures 
seemed to have occurred to the Jinnee, though 
what followed was strange and striking enough. 

For presently, as if in obedience to the Jin- 
nee^s weird gesticulations, a lurid belt of fog 
came rolling up from the direction of the Eoyal 
Exchange, swallowing up building after build- 



HIGH WOEDS 811 

ing in its rapid course; one by one the Guild- 
hall, Bow Church, Cheapside itself, and the 
churchyard disappeared, and Horace, turning 
his head to the left, saw the murky tide sweep- 
ing on westward, blotting out Ludgate Hill, the 
Strand, Charing Cross, and Westminster, till at 
last he and Fakrash were alone above a limit- 
less plain of bituminous cloud, the only living 
beings left, as it seemed, in a blank and silent 
universe. 

"Look again 1 " said Fakrash; and Horace, 
looking eastward, saw the spire of Bow Church 
rosy once more, the Guildhall standing clear 
and intact^ and the streets and housetops grad- 
ually reappearing. Only the flags, with their 
unrestful shiver and play of colour, had disap- 
peared, and with them the waiting crowds and 
the mounted constables. The ordinary traffic of 
vans, onuiibuses, and cabs was proceeding as if 
it had never been interrupted; the clank and 
jingle of harness chains, the cries and whip- 
crackings of drivers, rose with curious distinct- 
ness above the incessant trampling roar which 
is the ground swell of the human ocean. 

" That cloud which thou sawest,'* said Fak- 
rash, " hath swept away with it all memory of 
this day's doings from the minds of every mortal 
below us. See, they go about their several busi- 



312 THB BRASS BOTTLE 

nesseSy and all the past incidents are to them as 
though they had never been,'* 

It was not often that Horace could honestly 
commend any performance of the Jinnee, but 
at this he could not restrain his admiration. 
" By Jove! " he said, " that certainly gets the 
Lord Mayor and everybody else out of the 
mess as neatly as possible. I must say, Mr. 
Fakrash, it's much the best thing Fve seen you 
do yet." 

" Wait! " said the Jinnee. " For presently 
thou shalt see me perform a yet more excellent 
thing." 

There was a most unpleasant green glow in 
his eyes and a bristle in his thin beard as he 
spoke which suddenly made Horace feel uncom- 
fortable. He did not like the look of the Jinnee 
at all. 

" I realty think youVe done enough for to- 
day," he said. " And this wind up here is rather 
searching. I shan't be sorry to find myself on 
the ground again." 

"That," replied the Jinnee, "thou shalt 
assuredly do before long, O impudent and de- 
ceitful wretch! " And he laid a long, lean hand 
on Horace's shoulder. 

" He is put out about something," thought 
Ventimore. "But what? . . . My dear sir," 



HIGH WOBDS 313 

he said aloud, " I don't understand this tone of 
yours. What have I done to offend you?" 

" Divinely gifted was he who said: ^ Beware 
of losing hearts in consequence of injury, for 
the bringing them back after flight is difficult.' " 

" Excellent I " said Horace. " But I don't 
quite see the application." 

"The application," explained the Jinnee, 
"is that I am determined to cast thee down 
from here with my own hand." 

Horace turned faint and dizzy for a moment. 
Then, by a strong effort of will, he pulled him- 
self together. 

"Oh, come nowl " he said. "You don't 
mean that, you know. After all your kindness 1 
You're much too good natured, really, to be 
capable of anything so atrocious." 

"All pity hath been eradicated from my 
heart," returned Fakrash. " Therefore prepare 
to die, for thou art presently about to perish in 
the most unfortunate manner." 

Ventimore could not repress a shudder. 
Hitherto he had never been able to take Fak- 
rash quite seriously, in spite of all his super- 
natural powers; he had treated him with a half- 
kindly, half-contemptuous tolerance, as a well- 
meaning but hopelessly incompetent old foozle. 
That the Jinnee should ever become malevolent 



314 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

toward him bad never entered his head till now, 
and yet he undoubtedly had. How was be to 
cajole and disarm this formidable being? He 
must keep cool and act promptly or be would 
never see Sylvia again. 

As be sat there on the narrow ledge, with a 
faint but not unpleasant smeU of hops saluting 
bis nostrils from some distant brewery, he tried 
bard to collect his thoughts, but could not. He 
found himself instead idly watching the busy, 
jostling crowd below, who were aU unconscious 
of the impending drama so high above them. 
Just over the rim of the dome he could see 
the opaque white top of a lamp on a shelter, 
where a pigmy constable stood, directing the 
traffic 

Would he look up if Horace called for help? 
Even if he could, what help could he render? 
All he could do would be to keep the crowd 
back and send for a covered stretcher. ]!To, he 
would not dwell on these horrors; he must fix 
bis mind on some way of circumventing Pak- 
rash. 

How did the people in the Arabian lights 
manage? The Fisherman, for instance. He 
persuaded bis Jinnee to return to the bottle by 
pretending to doubt whether be bad ever really 
been inside it. But Fakrasb, though simple 



HIGH WORDS 315 

enough in some respects^ was not quite such a 
fool as that. Sometimes the Jinn could be molli- 
fied and induced to grant a reprieve by being 
told stories, one inside the other, like a nest of 
Oriental boxes. Unfortunately Fakrash did not 
seem in the humour for listening to apologues; 
and, even if he were, Horace could not think of 
or improvise any* just then. " Besides," he 
thought, " I can't sit up here telling him anec- 
dotes forever. I'd almost sooner diel " Still he 
remembered that it was generally possible to 
draw an Arabian Efreet into discussion; they 
all loved argument, and had a rough conception 
of justice. 

" I think, Mr. Fakrash," he said, " that, in 
common fairness, I have a right to know what 
offence I have committed." 

" To recite thy misdeeds," replied the Jin- 
nee, " would occupy much time." 

"I don't mind that," said Horace affably. 
" I can give you as long as you like. Fm in no 
hurry." 

"With me it is otherwise," retorted Fak- 
rash, making a stride toward him. " Therefore 
covet not life, for thy death hath become un- 
avoidable." 

" Before we part," said Horace, " you won't 

refuse to answer one or two questions? " 
21 



316 THB BRASS BOTTLE 

" There is no need. For I am positively 
determined to day thee/' 

" I demand it," said Horace, " in the most 
great name of the Lord Mayor — on whom be 
peace 1 " It was a desperate shot, but it took 
effect. The Jinnee quailed visibly. 

" Ask, then," he said, " but briefly, for the 
time groweth short." 

Horace determined to make one last appeal 
to Fakrash's sense of gratitude, since it had 
always seemed the dominant trait in his char* 
acter. 

" Well," he said, " but for me wouldn't you 
be still in that brass bottle?" 

"That," replied the Jinnee, "is the very 
reason why I purpose to destroy thee." 

" Oh! " was all Horace could find to say at 
this most unlooked-for answer. His best anchor, 
in which he had trusted implicitly, had suddenly 
dragged, and he was drifting fast to destruction. 

" Are there any other questions which thou 
wouldst ask," inquired the Jinnee, with grim 
consideration, "or wilt thou encounter thy 
doom without further procrastination? " 

Horace was determined not to give in just 
yet; he had a very bad hand, but he might as 
well play the game out and trust to luck to gain 
a stray trick. 



HIGH WORDS 317 

"I haven^t nearly done yet," he said. 
"And, remember, youVe promised to answer 
me in the name of the Lord Mayor 1 " 

" I will answer one other question and no 
more,'' said the Jinnee, in an inflexible tone, 
and Ventimore realized that his fate would de- 
pend upon what he said next. 



CHAPTER XVin 

LETTINO HIM GO 

" Thy second question, O pertinacious onel " 
said the Jinnee impatiently. He was standing 
with folded anns looking down on Horace, who 
was still seated on the narrow cornice, not dar- 
ing to look below again lest he should lose his 
head altogether. 

" Fm coming to it," said Ventimore. " I 
want to know why you should propose to dash 
me to pieces in this unfriendly way as a return 
for letting you out of that bottle? Were you 
so comfortable in it as all that? " 

" In the bottle I was at least suffered to 
rest, and none molested me. But in releasing 
me thou didst perfidiously conceal from me that 
Suleyman was dead and gone, and that there 
reigneth one in his stead mightier a thousand- 
fold, who afflicteth our race with labours and 
tortures exceeding all the punishments of Suley- 
man." 

"What on earth have you got into your 
head? You can't mean the Lord Mayor! " 
818 



LETTING HIM 00 319 

"Whom else?" said the Jinnee solemnly. 
" And though, for this once, by a device, I have 
evaded his vengeance, yet do I know full well 
that, either by virtue of the magic jewel upon 
his breast or through that malignant monster 
with the myriad ears and eyes and tongues 
which thou callest ' the press,* I shall inevitably 
fall into his power before long/* 

For the life of him, in spite of his desperate 
plight, Horace could not help laughing. " I beg 
your pardon, Mr. Fakrash," he said, as soon as 
he could speak. "But the Lord Mayor! It's 
really too absurd. Why, he wouldn't hurt a 
hair on a fly's head.'* 

" Seek not to deceive me further," said Fak- 
rash furiously. "Didst thou not inform me 
with thy own mouth that the spirits of earth, 
air, water, and fire were subject to his will? 
Have I no eyes? Do I not behold from here 
the labours of my captive brethren? What are 
those on yonder bridges but enslaved Jinn, 
shrieking and groaning in clanking fetters, and 
snorting forth steam, as they drag their wheeled 
burdens behind them? Are there not others 
toiling with panting efforts through the slug- 
gish waters; others, again, imprisoned in lofty 
pillars, from which the smoke of their breath 
ascendeth into heaven? Doth not the air throb 



320 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

and quiver with their restless struggles as they 
writhe below in darkness and torment? And 
thou hast the shamelessness to pretend that 
these things are done in the Lord Mayor's own 
realms without his knowledge! Verily thou 
must take me for a fool/' 

"After all," reflected Ventimore, "if he 
chooses to consider that railway engines and 
steamers and machinery generally are inhabited 
by so many Jinn * doing time/ it's not to my in- 
terest to undeceive him; indeed, it's quite the 
other way," 

"I wasn't aware the Lord Mayor had so 
much power as all that," he said; "but very 
likely you're right. And if you're so anxious 
to keep in favour with him it would be a 
great mistake to kill me. That would annoy 
him." 

" Not so," said the Jinnee. " For I should 
declare that thou hadst spoken slightingly of 
him in my hearing, and I had slain thee on that 
account." 

" Your proper course," said Horace, " would 
be to hand me over to him and let him deal 
with the case. Much more regular." 

" That may be," said Fakrash, " but I have 
conceived so bitter a hatred to thee by reason 
of thy insolence and treachery that I can not 



LETTING HIM GO 821 

forego the delight of slaying thee with my own 
hand/' 

" CanH you really 1 " said Horace, on the 
verge of despair. "And then what will you 
do?'' 

" Then," replied the Jinnee, " I shall flee 
away to Arabia, where I shall be safe." 

" Don't you be too sure of that," said Hor- 
ace. "You see all those wires stretched on 
poles down there? Those are pervaded by cer- 
tain forces known as electric currents, and the 
Lord Mayor could send a message along them 
which would be at Baghdad before you had 
flown farther than Folkestone. And I may 
mention that Arabia is now more or less under 
British jurisdiction." 

He was bluffing, of course, for he knew per- 
fectly well that, even if any extradition treaty 
could be put in force, the arrest of a Jinnee 
would be no easy matter. 

" Thou art of opinion, then, that I should be 
no safer in mine own country? " inquired Fak- 
rash. 

" I swear by the name of the Lord Mayor — 
to whom be all reverence 1" — said Horace, 
" that there is no land you could fly to where 
you would be any safer than you are here." 

" If I were but sealed up in my bottle once 



322 THE BBASS BOTTLE 

more/' said the Jinnee, "would not even the 
Lord Mayor have respect unto the seal of Suley- 
man and forbear to disturb me? '^ 

" Why, of course he would 1 " cried Horace, 
hardly daring to believe his ears. "That's 
really a brilliant idea of yours, my dear Mr. 
Fakrash/' 

" And in the bottle I should not be com- 
pelled to work," continued the Jinnee, "for 
labour of all kinds hath ever been abhorrent 
unto me." 

" I can quite understand that," said Horace 
sympathetically. " Just imagine your having to 
drag an excursion train to the seaside on a bank 
holiday, or being condenmed to print off a cheap 
comic paper, or even the War Cry, when you 
might bo leading a snug and idle existence in 
your bottle. If I were you, I should go and 
get inside at once. Suppose we go back to Vin- 
cent Square and find it? " 

" I shall return to the bottle, since in that 
alone there is safety," said the Jinnee. " But 
I shall return alone." 

"Alone!" cried Horace. "You're not 
going to leave me stuck up here by my- 
self? " 

"By no means!" replied the Jinnee. 
" Have I not said that I am about to cast thee 



LETTING HIM GO 

to perdition? Too long have I delayed in the 
accomplishment of this dutyl " 

Once more Horace gave himself up for lost, 
which was doubly bitter, just when he had 
begun to consider that the danger was past. 
Sut even then he was determined to fight to 
the last. 

" One moment 1 " he said. " Of course if 
youVe set your heart on pitching me over, you 
must. Only — I may be quite mistaken — but 
I don't quite see how you're going to manage 
the rest of your programme without me; that's 
all." 

" O deficient in intelligence I " cried the Jin- 
nee. " What assistance canst thou render me? " 

"Well," said Horace, "of course you can 
get into the bottle alone — that's simple enough. 
But the difficulty I see is this: Are you quite 
sure you can put the cap on yourself — from the 
insidey you know? If he can,''^ he thought, 
"I'm done for." 

" That," began the Jinnee, with his usual 
confidence, " will be the easiest'of — Nay," he 
corrected himself, "there be things that not 
even the Jinn themselves can accomplish, and 
one of them is to seal a vessel while remaining 
within it. I am indebted to thee for reminding 
me thereof." 



324 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

" Not at all/' said Ventimore. " I shall be 
delighted to come and seal you up comfortably 
myself." 

" Again thou speakest folly I '* exclaimed 
the Jinnee. ^^ How canst thou seal me up after 
I have dashed thee into a thousand pieces? '' 

" That," said Horace, with all the urbanity 
he could conunand, " is precisely the difficulty 
I was trying to convey." 

" There will be no difficulty, for as soon as 
I am in the bottle I shall summon certain in- 
ferior Efreets, and they will replace the seal." 

"When you are once in the bottle," said 
Horace, at a venture, " you probably wonH be 
,in a position to summon anybody." 

^^ Before I get into the bottle, then," said 
the Jinnee impatiently. " Thou dost but juggle 
with words." 

" But about those Efreets," persisted Hor- 
ace. " You know what Efreets are. How can 
you be sure that when they've got you in the 
bottle they won't hand you over to the Lord 
Mayor? I shouldn't trust them myself, but of 
course you know bestl " 

" Whom shall I trust, then? " said Fakrash, 
frowning. 

" I'm sure I don't know. It's rather a pity 
you're so determined to destroy me, because, 



LETTING HIM GO 325 

as it happens, I'm just the one person living 
who could be depended on to seal you up and 
keep your secret. However, that's your affair. 
After all, why should I care what becomes of 
you? I shan't be there." 

"Even at this hour," said the Jinnee un- 
decidedly, " I might find it in my heart to spare 
thee were I but sure that thou wouldst be faith- 
ful unto me." 

" I should have thought I was more to be 
trusted than one of your beastly Efreets," said 
Horace, with well-assumed indifference. " But, 
never mind, I don't know that I care, after all. 
I've nothing particular to live for now. You've 
ruined me pretty thoroughly, and you may as 
well finish your work. I've a good mind to 
jump over to save you the trouble. Perhaps, 
when you see me bouncing down that dome, 
you'll be sorry." 

" Refrain from rashness! ". said the Jinnee 
hastily, without suspecting that Ventimore had 
no serious intention of carrying out his threat. 
" If thou wilt do as thou art bidden, I will not 
only pardon thee, but grant thee all that thou 
desirest." 

" Take me back to Vincent Square first," 
said Horace. " This is not the place to discuss 
business." 



THS BRASS BOTTLB 

" Thou sayest rightly," replied the Jinnee. 
'^ Hold fast to my sleeve and I will transport 
thee to thine abode." 

"Not till you promise to play fair," said 
Horace, pausing on the brink of the ledge. 
" Remember, if you let me drop now, you lose 
the only friend youVe got in the world." 

" May I be thy ransom 1 " replied Fakrash. 
" There shall not be harmed a hair of thy 
headl" 

Even then Horace had his misgivings; but 
as there was no other way of getting off that 
cornice he decided to take the risk. 

And, as it proved, he acted judiciously, for 
the Jinnee flew to Vincent Square with honour- 
able precision, and dropped him neatly into the 
arm-chair in which he had little hoped ever to 
find himself again. 

" I have brought thee hither," said Fakrash, 
" and yet I am persuaded that thou art even 
now devising treachery against me, and wilt 
betray me if thou canst." 

Horace was about to assure him once more 
that no one could be more anxious than himself 
to see him safely back in his bottle, when he 
recollected that it was impolitic to appear too 
eager. 

" After the way you've behaved," he said. 



LETTING HIM GO 327 

" I*m not at all sure that I ought to help you. 
Still, I said I would on certain conditions, and 
I'll keep my wordl " 

" Conditions! " thundered the Jinnee. 
" Wilt thou bargain with me yet further? " 

" My excellent friend," said Horace quietly, 
"you know perfectly well that you can't get 
yourself safely sealed up again in that bottle 
without my assistance. K you don't like my 
terms, and prefer to take your chance of finding 
an Efreet who is willing to brave the Lord 
Mayor, well, you've only to say so." 

"I have loaded thee with all manner of 
riches and favours, and I will bestow no more 
upon thee," said the Jinnee sullenly. "Nay, 
in token of my displeasure, I will deprive thee 
even of such gifts as thou hast retained." He 
pointed his gray forefinger at Ventimore, whose 
turban and jewelled robes instantly shrivelled 
into cobwebs and tinder and fluttered to the 
carpet in filmy shreds, leaving him in nothing 
but his underclothing. 

" That only shows what a nasty temper 
you're in," said Horace blandly, " and doesn't 
annoy me in the least. If you'll excuse me, 
111 go and put on some things I can feel more 
at home in, and perhaps by the time I return 
vou'U have cooled down.'* 



328 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

He slipped on some clothes hurriedly, and 
re-entered the sitting-room. " Now, Mr. Fak- 
rash," he said, " we'll have this out. • You talk 
of having loaded me with benefits. You seem 
to consider I ought to be grateful to you. In 
Heaven's name, for what? I've been as for- 
bearing as possible all this time because I gave 
you credit for meaning well. Now I'll speak 
plainly. I told you from the first, and I tell 
you now, that I want no riches nor honours from 
you. The one real good turn you did me was 
bringing me that client, and you spoiled that be* 
cause you would insist on building the palace 
yourself instead of leaving it to me. As for 
the rest, here am I, a ruined and discredited 
man, with a client who probably supposes I'm 
in league with the devil; with the girl I love, 
and might have married, believing that I have 
left her to marry a princess; and her father, who 
will never forgive me for having seen him as a 
one-eyed mule. In short, I'm in such a mess all 
round that I don't care two straws whether I 
live or die." 

" What is all this to me? " said the Jinnee. 

" Only this — that unless you can see your 
way of putting things straight for me I'm 
hanged if I take the trouble to seal you up in 
thirtbottte!" 



LETTINa HIM GO S29 

"How am I to put things straight for 
thee? " cried Fakrash peevishly. 

" K you could make all those people entirely 
forget that affair in the Guildhall, you can make 
my friends forget the brass bottle and every- 
thing connected with it, canH you? " 

" There would be no diflSculty in that," Fak- 
rash admitted. 

" Well, do it, and FU swear to seal you up 
in the bottle exactly as if you had never been 
out of it, and pitch you into the deepest part of 
the Thames, where no one will ever disturb 
you." 

" First produce the bottle, then," said Fak- 
rash, " for I can not believe but that thou hast 
some guile in thy heart." 

"FU ring for my landlady and have the 
bottle brought up," said Horace. "Perhaps 
that will satisfy you. Stay! You'd better not 
let her see you." 

" I will render myself invisible," said the 
Jinnee, suiting the action to his words. " But 
beware lest thou play me false," his voice con- 
tinued, " for I shall hear thee I " 

" So youVe come in, Mr. Ventimore? " said 
Mrs. Rapkin, as she entered. "And without the 
furrin' gentleman? I was surprised, and so was 
Hapkin the same, to see you riding off tkis mom* 



380 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

ing in that gorgeous chariot and 'orses and 
d jessed that lovely I ' Depend upon it/ I says 
to Eapkin, I says, ' depend upon it, Mr. Venti- 
more '11 be sent for to Buckinham Pallis, if it 
ain't Windsor Castle! ' " 

" Never mind that now," said Horace im- 
patiently. " I want that brass bottle I bought 
the other day. Bring it up at once, please! " 

" I thought you said the other day you never 
wanted to set eyes on it again, and I was to do 
as I pleased with it, sir? " 

" Well, I've changed my mind, so let me 
have it quick." 

" I'm sure I'm very sorry, sir, but that you 
can't — Because Rapkin, not wishing to have 
the place lumbered up with rubbish, disposed 
of it only last night to a gentleman as keeps a 
rag-and-bone emporium off the Bridge Boad, 
and 'alf a crown was the most he'd give for it, 
sir." 

" Give me his name," said Horace. 

"Dilger, sir — Emanuel Dilger. When 
Bapkin comes in I'm sure he'd go round, with 
pleasure, and see about it if required." 

" I'll go round myself," said Horace. " It's 
all right, Mrs. Bapkin; quite a natural mistake 
on your part, but — but I happen to want the 
bottle again. You needn't stay." 



LETTING HIM GO 881 

" O thou smooth-faced and double-tongued 
one! '* said the Jinnee, after she had gone, as h.Q 
reappeared to view. " Did I not foresee that 
thou wouldst deal crookedly? Kestore unto me 
my bottle!" 

"I'll go and get it at once," said Horace. 
" I shan't be five minutes." And he prepared 
to go. 

" Thou shalt not leave this house," cried 
Fakrash, "for I perceive plainly that this is 
but a device of thine to escape and betray me 
to the press devil." 

" If you can't see," said Horace angrily, 
" that I'm quite as anxious to see you safely 
back in that confounded bottle as ever you can 
be to get there, you must be pretty dense. 
CanH you understand? The bottle's sold, and 
I can't buy it back without going out. Don't 
be so unreasonable! " 

" Go, then," said the Jinnee, " and I will 
await thy return here. But know this: that 
if thou delayest long or retumest without my 
bottle I shall know that thou art a traitor, 
and will visit thee and those who are dear 
to thee with the most unpleasant punish- 
ments." 

" I'll be back in half an hour at most," said 
Horace, feeling that this would allow him ample 



332 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

margin, and thankful that it did not occur to 
Fakrash to go in person. 

He put on his hat and hurried off in the 
gathering dusk. He had some little trouble in 
finding Mr. Dilger's establishment, which was a 
dirty, dusty little place in a back street, with 
a few deplorable old chairs, rickety washstands, 
and rusty fenders outside, and the interior 
almost completely blocked by piles of dingy mat- 
tresses, empty clock cases, tarnished and cracked 
looking-glasses, broken lamps, damaged picture 
frames, and everything else which one would 
imagine could have no possible value for any 
human being. But in all this collection of 
worthless curios the brass bottle was nowhere to 
be seen. 

Ventimore went in and found a youth of 
about thirteen straining his eyes in the fading 
light over one of the halfpenny humorous jour- 
nals which, thanks to an improved system of 
education, at least eighty per cent of our juve- 
nile population are now enabled to appreciate. 

" I want to see Mr. Dilger,*' he began. 

" You can't,** said the youth, " 'cause he 
ain't in. He's attending of a auction." 

" When will he be in, do you know? " 

" Might be back to his tea, but I wasn't to 
expect him not before supper." 



LETTING HIM GO 333 

" You don't happen to have any old metal 
bottles — copper or — or brass would do — for 
sale?" 

"You don't git at me like thatl Bottles 
is made o' glorss." 

" Well, a jar, then — a big brass pot — any- 
thing of that kind? " 

" Don't keep 'em," said the boy, and buried 
himself once more in his copy of Spicy Snig- 
gers. 

"I'll look round," said Horace, and began 
to poke about with a sinking heart, and a horrid 
dread that he might have come to the wrong 
shop, for the big pot-bellied vessel certainly did 
not seem to be there. At last, to his unspeak- 
able joy, he discovered it under a piece of tat- 
tered drugget. " Why, this is the sort of thing 
I meant," he said, feeling in his pocket, and 
discovering that he had exactly a sovereign. 
" How much do you want for it? " 

" I dunno," said the boy. 

" I don't mind three shillings," said Hor- 
ace, who did not wish to appear too keen at 
first. 

" I'll tell the guv'nor when he comes in," 
was the reply, " and you can look in later." 

"I want it at once,'^ insisted Horace. 
" Come, I'll give you three-and-six for it." 



334 TDE BRASS BOTTLE 

" It's more than it's wurf," replied the can- 
did youth. 

" Perhaps," said Horace, " but I'm rather 
pressed for time. If you'll change this sover- 
eign, I'll take the bottle away with me." 

" You seem uncommon anxious to git 'old 
on it, mister," said the boy, with sudden sus- 
picion. 

" Nonsense! " said Horace. " I live close 
by, and I thought I might as well take it; that's 
all." 

" Oh, if that's all, you can wait till the 
guv'nor's in." 

" I — I mayn't be passing this way again for 
some time," said Horace. 

" Bound to be, if you live close by;" and the 
provoking youth returned to his Sniggers. 

" Do you call this attending to your master's 
business? " said Horace. " Listen to me, you 
young rascal: I'll give you five shillings for it. 
You're not going to be fool enough to refuse an 
offer like that? " 

" I ain't goin' to be fool enough to refuse 
it, nor yet I ain't goin' to be fool enough to 
take it, 'cause I'm ony 'ere to see as nobody 
don't come in and sneak fings. I ain't got au- 
thority to sell anyfink and I don't know the 
proice o' nuffink, so there you 'are it." 



LETTING HIM GO 335 

" Take the five shillings," said Horace, "and 
if it^s too little I'll come round and settle with 
your master later." 

" I thought you said you wasn't likely to be 
porsin' again? No, mister,* you don't kid me 
that way! " 

Horace had a mad impulse to snatch up the 
precious bottle then and there and make off 
with it, and might have yielded to the tempta- 
tion with disastrous consequences had not an 
elderly man entered the shop at that moment. 
He was bent, and carried rather more fluff and 
flue upon his person than most well-dressed 
people would consider necessary, but he came in 
with a certain air of authority, nevertheless. 

" Mr. Dilger, sir," piped the youth, " 'ere's 
a gent took a fancy to this 'ere brass pot o* 
yours. Says 'e must 'ave it. Five shillings he'd 
got to, but I told him he'd 'ave to wait till you 
come in." 

"Quite right, my lad!" said Mr. Dilger, 
cocking a watery but sharp old eye at Horace. 
" Five shillings! Ah, sir, you canH know much 
about these hold brass auntiquities to make a 
orfer like that! " 

" Perhaps not," said Horace, " but I know 
what this one is worth to me. Still, let us say 
six shillings." 



336 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

"Couldn't be done^ sir; couldn't, indeed. 
Why, I give a pound for it myself at Christie's, 
as sure as I'm standin' 'ere in the presence o' 
my Maker, and you a sinner 1 " he declared im- 
pressively, if rather ambiguously. 

" Your memory misleads you," said Horace. 
" You bought it last night from a man of the 
name of Kapkin, who lets lodgings in Vincent 
Square, and you paid exactly half a crown for 
it" 

" If you say so, I dessay it's correct, sir," 
said Mr. Dilger, without exhibiting the least 
confusion. " And if I did buy it off Mr. Rap- 
kin, he's a respectable party and ain't likely to 
have come by it dishonestly." 

" I never said he did. What will you take 
for the thing? " 

" Well, just look at the work in it. They 
don't turn out the like o' that nowadays. 
Dutch, that is — ^what they use to put their milk 
and such like in." 

" Damn itl " said Horace, completely losing 
his temper. "I know what it was used for. 
Will you tell me what you want for it? " 

"I couldn't let a curiosity like that go a 
penny under thirty shilling," said Mr. Dilger 
affectionately. " It would be robbin' myself." 

" I'll give you a sovereign for it — there," 



LETTING HIM GO 337 

said Horace. " You know best what profit that 
represents. That^s my last word.^' 

" My last word to that, sir, is good heven- 
inV said the worthy man. 

" Good evening, then," said Horace, and 
walked out of the shop; rather to bring Mr. 
Dilger to terms than because he really meant 
to abandon the bottle, for he dared not go back 
without it, and he had nothing about him just 
then on which he could raise the extra ten shill- 
ings, supposing the dealer refused to trust him 
for the balance, and the time was growing dan- 
gerously short. 

Fortunately the well-worn ruse succeeded, 
for Mr. Dilger ran out after him and laid an 
unwashed claw upon his coat sleeve. " Don't 
go, mister," he said. ^* I like to do business if I 
can, though, 'pon my word and honour, a sover- 
eign for a' work o' art like that — well, just for 
luck, and bein' my birthday, we'll call it a deal." 

Horace handed over the coin, which left him 
with a few pence. " There ought to be a lid 
or stopper of some sort," he said suddenly. 
" What have you done with that? " 

" No, sir; there you're mistook — ^you are, in- 
deed. I do assure you, you never see a pot of 
this partickler pattern with a- lid to it — ^neverl " 

" Oh, don't you though? " said Horace. ** I 



338 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

know better. Never mind," he said, as he recol- 
lected that the seal was in Fakrash's possession. 
" I^U take it as it is. Don^t trouble to wrap it 
up. Fm in rather a hurry." 

It was almost dark when he got back to his 
rooms, where he found the Jinnee shaking with 
mingled rage and apprehension. 

" No welcome to theel " he cried. " Dila- 
tory dog that thou artl Hadst thou delayed 
another minute I would have called down some 
calamity upon thee." 

" Well, you need not trouble yoilrself to do 
that now," returned Ventimore. " Here's your 
bottle, and you can creep into it as soon as you 
please." 

" But the seal ! " shrieked the Jinnee. 
"What hast thou done with the seal which 
was upon the bottle? " 

" Why, you've got it yourself, of course," 
said Horace, " in one of your pockets." 

** O thou of base antecedents! " howled Fak- 
rash, shaking out his flowing draperies. " How 
should I have the seal? This is but a fresh de- 
vice of thine to undo me." 

" Don't talk rubbish ! " retorted Horace. 
"You made the professor give it up to you 
yesterday. You must have lost it somewhere 
or Other. Never mind, I'll get a large cork or 



LETTING HIM GO 339 

bimg, which will do just as well. And V\e 
lots of sealing-wax." 

" I will have no seal but the seal of Suley- 
manl '^ declared the Jinnee. " For with no 
other wUl there be security. Verily I believe 
that that accursed sage hath contrived by some 
cunning to get the seal once more into his hands. 
I will go at once to his abode and compel him to 
restore it." 

" I wouldn^t," said Horace, feeling extreme- 
ly uneasy, for it was evidently a much simpler 
thing to let a Jinnee out of a bottle than to get 
him in again. '^ He's quite incapable of taking 
it. And if you go out now you'll only make a 
fuss and attract the attention of the press, 
which I thought you rather wanted to avoid." 

" I shall attire myself in the garments of a 
mortal — even those I assumed before,'^ said 
Fakrash, and as he spoke his outer robes mod- 
ernized into a frock-coat. " Thus shall I escape 
attention." 

" Wait one moment," said Horace. " What 
is that bulge in your breast pocket? " 

" Of a truth," said the Jinnee, looking re- 
lieved, but not a little foolish as he extracted 
the object. " It is indeed the seal." 

" You're in such a hurxy to think the worst 
of everybody, you seel " said Horace. "Now 



340 ^^^ BRASS BOTTLE 

do try to carry away with you into your seclu- 
sion a better opinion of human nature." 

" Perdition to all the people of this agel " 
cried Fakrash, reassuming his green robe and 
turban, "for I now put no faith in human 
beings and would af&ict them all were not the 
Lord Mayor — on whom be peace 1 — ^mightier 
than I. Therefore, while it is yet time, take 
thou the stopper, and swear that, after I am in 
this bottle, thou wilt seal it as before and cast 
it into deep waters, where no eye will look upon 
it more." 

" With all the pleasure in the world! " said 
Horace. " Only you must keep your part of the 
bargain first. You will kindly obliterate all 
recollection of yourself and the brass bottle 
from the minds of every human being who has 
had anything to do with you or it." 

"Not so," objected the Jinnee, "for thus 
wouldst thou forget thy compact." 

"Oh, very well; leave me out, then," said 
Horace. " Not that anything could make me 
forget you!^^ 

Fakrash swept his right hand round in a 
half circle. "It is accomplished," he said. "All 
recollection of myself and yonder bottle is now 
erased from the memories of every one but thy- 
seH." 



LETTING HIM GO 341 

^^ But how about my client? " said Horace. 
" I can't afford to lose Aim, you know." 

" He will return unto thee," said the Jin- 
nee, trembling with impatience. " Now per- 
form thy share." 

Horace had triumphed. It had been a long 
and desperate duel with this singular being, who 
was at once so crafty and so childlike, so credu- 
lous and so suspicious, so benevolent and so ma- 
lignant. Again and again he had despaired of 
victory, but he had won at last. In another 
minute or so this formidable Jinnee would be 
safely bottled once more, and powerless to in- 
termeddle and plague him for the future. 

And yet, in the very moment of victory, 
quixotic as such scruples may seem to some, 
Ventimore's conscience smote him. He could 
not help a certain pity for the old creature who 
was shaking there convulsively, prepared to re- 
enter his bottle-prison rather than incur a 
wholly imaginary doom. Fakrash had aged 
visibly within the last hour; now he looked even 
older than his three thousand and odd years. 
True, he had led Horace a fearful life of late; 
but at first, at least, his intentions had been 
good. His gratitude, if mistaken in its form, 
was the sign of a generous disposition. Not 
every Jinnee surely would have endeavoured 



342 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

to press untold millions and honours and dig- 
nities of all kinds upon him in return for a 
service which most mortals would have consid- 
ered amply repaid by a brace of birds and an 
invitation to an evening party. 

And how was Horace treating himf He 
was taking what^ in his hearty he felt to be a 
rather mean advantage of the Jinnee's igno- 
rance of modem life to cajole him into return- 
ing to his captivity. Why not suffer him to 
live out the brief remainder of his years (for 
he could hardly last more than another century 
or two at most) in freedom? Fakrash had 
learned his lesson; he was not likely to interfere 
again in human affairs; he might find his way 
back to the Palace of the Moimtain of the 
Clouds and end his days there, in peaceful en- 
joyment of the society of such of the Jinn as 
might still survive unbottled. 

So, obeying — against his own interests — 
some kindlier impulse, Horace made an effort 
to deter the Jinnee, who was already hovering 
in air above the neck of the bottle in a swirl of 
revolving draperies, like a blundering old bee 
vainly endeavouring to hit the opening into his 
hive. 

" Mr. Fakrash! " he cried. " Before you go 
any further, listen to me. There's no real neces- 



LETTING HIM GO 343 

sity, after all, for you to go back to your bottle. 
If you'll only wait a little " 

But the Jinnee, who had now swelled to 
gigantic proportions, and whose form and fea- 
tures were only dimly recognisable through the 
wreaths of black vapour in which he was in- 
volved, answered him from his pillar of smoke 
in a terrible voice: "Wouldst thou still per- 
suade me to linger? '* he cried. " Hold thy 
peace and be ready to fulfil thine undertaking." 

" But look here I '^ persisted Horace. " I 
should feel such a brute if I sealed you up with- 
out telling you '^ 

The whirling and roaring colunm, in shape 
like an inverted cone, was being fast drawn 
down into the vessel, till only a semi-material- 
ized but highly infuriated head was left above 
the neck of the bottle. 

"Must I tarry,'' it cried, "till the Lor^ 
Mayor arrive with his memlooks and the hour 
of safety is expired? By my head, if thou de- 
layest another instant, I will piit no more faith 
in thee! And I will come forth once more, and 
afflict thee and thy friends, aye, and all the 
dwellers in this accursed City, with the most 
painful and unheard-of calamities! " 

And, with these words, the head sank into 
the bottle with a loud clap resembling thunder. 



344 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

Horace hesitated no longer; the Jinnee him- 
self had absolved him from all further scruples. 
To imperil Sylvia and her parents — ^not to men- 
tion all London — out of consideration for one 
obstinate and obnoxious old demon would clear- 
ly be carrying sentiment much too far. 

Accordingly he made a rush for the jar and 
slipped the metal cover over the mouth of the 
neck, which was so hot that it blistered his 
fingers, and, seizing the poker, he hammered 
down the secret catch until the lid fitted as 
closely as Suleyman himself could have re- 
quire^. 

Then he stuffed the bottle into a kit bag, 
adding a few coals to give it extra weight, and 
toiled off with it to the nearest steam-boat pier, 
where he spent his remaining pence in purchas- 
ing a ticket to the Temple. 

Next day the following paragraph appeared 
in one of the evening papers, which probably 
had more space than usual at its disposal: 

" SiNGULAB Occurrence on a Penny Steamer. 

" A gentleman on board one of the Thames 
steam-boats (so we are informed by an eye-wit- 
ness) met with rather a ludicrous mishap yester- 
day evening. It appears that he had with him 
a small portmanteau or large handbag, which he 
was supporting on the rail of the stem bulwark. 



LETTING HIM GO 345 

Just as the vessel was opposite the Savoy Hotel, 
he incautiously raised his hand to the brim of 
his hat, thereby releasing hold of the bag, which 
overbalanced itself and fell into the deepest 
part of the river, where it instantly sank. The 
owner (whose carelessness occasioned consider- 
able amusement to passengers in his immediate 
vicinity) appeared somewhat disconcerted by 
the oversight, and was not unnaturally reticent 
as to the amount of his loss, though he was 
understood to state that the bag contained noth- 
ing of any great value. However this may be, 
he has probably learned a lesson which will 
render him more careful in future." 



THE EPILOGUE 

One evening last May Horace Ventimore 
dined in a private room at the Savoy, as one of 
the guests of Mr. Samuel Wackerbath. In 
fact, he might almost be said to be the guest of 
the evening, as the dinner was given by way 
of celebrating the completion of the host's new 
country house at Lipsfield, of which Horace was 
the architect, and also to congratulate him on 
his approaching marriage (which was fixed to 
take place early in the following month) with 
Miss Sylvia Futvoye. 

" Quite a small and friendly party! " said 
Mr. Wackerbath, looking round on his numer- 
ous sons and daughters, as he greeted Horace 
in the reception room. " Only ourselves, you 
see, and a young lady with whom you are fairly 
well acquainted and her people, and an old 
schoolfellow of mine and his wife, who are not 
yet arrived. He's a man of considerable emi- 
nence," he added, with a roll of reflected im- 
portance in his voice, " quite worth your culti- 
346 



THE EPILOGUB 347 

vating. Sir Lawrence Ponntney, his name is. 
I don't know if you remember him, but he dis- 
charged the onerous duties of Lord Mayor of 
Loi^don the year before last, and acquitted him- 
self very creditably — in fact, he got a baronetcy 
for it." 

As the year before last was the year in 
which Horace had paid his involuntary visit to 
the Guildhall, he was able to reply, with truth, 
that he did remember Sir Lawrence. 

He was not altogether comfortable when the 
ex-Lord Mayor was announced, for it would 
have been more than awkward if Sir Lawrence 
had chanced to remember him. Fortunately 
he gave no sign that he did so, though his man- 
ner was graciousness itself. " Delighted, my 
dear Mr. Ventimore,'' he said, pressing Hor- 
ace's hand almost as warmly as he had done 
that October day on the dais. " Most delighted 
to make your acquaintance! I am always glad 
to meet a rising young man, and I hear that the 
house you have designed for my old friend here 
is a perfect palace — a marvel, sir! " 

"I knew he was my man," declared Mr. 

Wackerbath, as Horace modestly disclaimed Sir 

Lawrence's compliment. "You remember, 

Pountney, my dear fellow, that day when we 

were crossing Westminster Bridge together, and 
23 



348 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

I was telling you I thought of building? ' Go 
to one of the leading men — an E. A. and all 
that sort of thing,' you said; * then you'll be sure 
of getting your money's worth.' But I said, 
' No, I like to choose for myself; to — ah — exer- 
cise my own judgment in these matters. And 
there's a young fellow I have in my eye who'll 
beat 'em all, if he's given the chance. I'm off 
to see him now.' And off I went to Great 
Cloister Street (for he hadn't those palatial 
offices of his in Victoria Street at that time) 
without losing another instant, and dropped in 
on him with my little commission. Didn't I, 
Ventimore? " 

" You did, indeed," said Horace, wondering 
how far these reminiscences would go. 

" And," continued Mr. Wackerbath, patting 
Horace on the shoulder, " from that day to this 
I've never had a moment's reason to regret it. 
We've worked in perfect sympathy. His ideas 
coincided with mine — ^I think he found that I 
met him, so to speak, on all-fours." 

Ventimore assented, though it struck him 
that a happier expression might and would have 
been employed if his client had remembered 
one particular interview in which he had not 
figured to advantage. 

They went in to dinner, in a room sumptu- 



THE EPILOGUE 349 

ously decorated with panels of gray-green bro- 
cade and softly shaded lamps and screens of 
gilded leather; through the centre of the table 
rose a tall palm, its boughs hung with small 
electric globes like magic fruits. 

" This palm," said the professor, who was 
in high good humour, " really gives quite an 
Oriental look to the table. Personally, I think 
we might reproduce the Arabian style of decora- 
tion and arrangement generally in our homes 
with great advantage. I often wonder it never 
occurred to my future son-in-law there to turn 
his talents in that direction and design an Ori- 
ental interior for himself. Nothing more com- 
fortable and luxurious — for a bachelor's pur- 
poses." 

"I'm sure," said his wife, "Horace man- 
aged to make himself quite comfortable enough 
as it was. He has the most delightful rooms in 
Vincent Square 1" Ventimore heard her re- 
mark to Sir Lawrence. " I shall never forget 
the first time we dined there, just after my 
daughter and he were engaged. I was quite 
astonished; everything was so perfect — quite 
simple, you know, but so ingeniously arranged, 
and his landlady such an excellent cook, too! 
Still, of course, in many ways it will be nicer for 
him to have a home of his own." 



350 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

" With such a beautiful and charming com- 
panion to share it with/' said Sir Lawrence, 
in his most florid manner, "the — ah — ^poorest 
home would prove a paradise indeed I And I 
suppose now, my dear young lady," he added, 
raising his voice to address Sylvia, "you are 
busy making your future abode as exquisite as 
taste and research can render it, ransacking all 
the furniture shops in London for treasures, 
and going about to auctions — or do you — 
ah — delegate that department to Mr. Venti- 
more?" 

" I do go about to old furniture shops. Sir 
Lawrence,'' she said, " but not auctions. I'm 
afraid I should only get just the thing I didn't 
want if I tried to bid. . . . And," she added in 
a lower voice, turning to Horace, "I don't 
believe you would be a bit more successful, 
Horace." 

" What makes you say that, Sylvia? " he 
asked, with a start. 

" Why, do you mean to say you've forgotten 
how you went to that auction for papa, and 
came away without having managed to get a 
single thing? What a short memory you must 
have I" 

There was only tender mockery in her 
eyes; absolutely no recollection of the sinister 



THE EPILOGUE 35I 

purchase he had made at that sale, or how 
nearly it had separated them forever. So he 
hastened to admit that perhaps he had not 
been particularly successful at the auction in 
question. 

Sir Lawrence next addressed him across the 
table. " I was just telling Mrs. Futvoye," he 
said, " how much I regretted that I had not the 
privilege of your acquaintance during my year 
of office. A Lord Mayor, as you doubtless know, 
has exceptional facilities for exercising hospi- 
tality, and it would have afforded me real pleas- 
ure if your first visit to the Guildhall could have 
been paid under my — hum — ha — auspices." 

" You are very kind," said Horace, very 
much on his guard. " I could not wish to pay it 
under better." 

" I flatter myself," said the ex-Lord Mayor, 
" that while in office I did my humble best to 
maintain the traditions of the City, and I was 
fortunate enough to have the honour of receiv- 
ing more than the average number of celebrities 
as guests. But I had one great disappointment, 
I must tell you. It had always been a dream 
of mine that it might fall to my lot to present 
some distinguished fellow-countryman with the 
freedom of the city. By some curious chance, 
when the opportunity seemed about to occur, the 



362 THB BRASS BOTTLE 

thing was put off, and I missed it — missed it by 
the merest hair-breadth." 

" Ah, well. Sir Lawrence," said Ventimore, 
" one canH have everything! " 

" For my part," put in Lady Pountney, who 
had only caught a word or two of her husband's 
remarks, " what / miss most is having the senti- 
nels present arms whenever I went out for a 
drive. They did it so nicely and respectfully. 
I confess I enjoyed that. My husband never 
cared much for it. Lideed, he wouldn't even 
use the state coach unless he was absolutely 
obliged. He was as obstinate as a mule 
about it." 

" I see, Lady Pountney," the professor put 
in, " that you share the common prejudice 
against mules. It's quite a mistaken one. The 
mule has never been properly appreciated in 
this country. He is really the gentlest and 
most docile of creatures." 

" I can't say I like them myself," said Lady 
Pountney. " Such a mongrel sort of animal — 
neither one thing nor the other." 

"And they're hideous, too, Anthony," added 
his wife. " And not at all clever." 

" There you're mistaken, my dear," said the 
professor. " They are capable of almost human 
intelligence. I have had considerable personal 



THE EPILOGUE 353 

experience of what a mule can do/' he informed 
Lady Pountney, who seemed still incredulQUs. 
" More than most people, indeed, and I can as- 
sure you, my dear lady, that they readily adapt 
themselves to almost any environment, and will 
endure the greatest hardships without show- 
ing any signs of distress — I see by your expres- 
sion, Ventimore, that you don't agree with me 
— eh?^^ 

Horace had to set his teeth hard for a 
moment lest he should disgrace himself by 
a peal of untimely mirth, but by a strong 
effort of will he managed to command his 
muscles. 

" Well, sir," he said, " I've only chanced to 
come into close contact with one mule in my 
life, and, frankly, I've no desire to repeat the 
experience." 

" You happened to come upon an unfa- 
vourable specimen, that's all," said the pro- 
fessor. " There are exceptions to every 
rule.'^ 

'^ This animal," Horace said, " was certainly 
exceptional enough in every way." 

" Do tell us all about it! " pleaded one of 
the Miss Wackerbaths, and all the ladies joined 
in the entreaty, until Horace found himself 
under the necessity of improvising a story. 



354 THE BRASS BOTTLE 

which, it must be confessed, fell exceedingly 
flat. 

This last peril past, he grew silent and 
thoughtful, as he sat there by Sylvia's side, 
looking out through the glazed gallery out- 
side on the spring foliage of the Embank- 
ment, the opaline river and the shot towers 
and buildings on the opposite bank glowing 
warm brown against an evening sky of silvery 
blue. 

Not for the first time did it seem strange — 
incredible almost to him — that all these people 
should be so utterly without any recollection 
of events which surely might have been ex- 
pected to leave some trace upon the least re- 
tentive memory, and yet it only proved once 
more how thoroughly and honourably the old 
Jinnee, now slumbering placidly in his bottle 
deep down in unfathomable mud, opposite the 
very spot where they were dining, had fulfilled 
his last undertaking. 

Fakrash, the brass bottle, and all his fan- 
tastic and embarrassing performances were in- 
deed as totally forgotten as though they had 
never been. 

And it is but too probable that even this 
modest and veracious account of them will prove 
to have been included in the general consign- 



THE EPILOGUE 356 

ment to speedy oblivion, though the author will 
trust as long as po^ble that Fakrash-el-Aamash 
may have neglected to provide for this particu- 
lar case, and that the history of the Brass Bottle 
may thus be permitted to linger awhile in the 
memories of some at least of its readers. 



THE END 



DR BARTONS NEW NOVEL, 
Pine Knot. 

A Story of Kentucky Life. By William E. Barton, author of 
**A Hero in Homespun." Illustrated by F. T. Merrill. 1 2mo. 
Cloth, $i»S^' 

Three yean ago a brilliant and already distinguished clergyman, then of 
Boston, published <* A Hero in Homespun,** a romance of unlcnown types and 
phases of life in the mountains of Tennessee and Kentucky during the civil war. 
The success of this firesh and vigorous romance has not induced the author, Dr. 
William £. Barton, to sacrifice anything to hasty production. He has written 
no other novel until the present time, when Messrs. D. Appleton and Company 
are able to announce his new romance, *' Pine Knot, a Story of Kentucky Life.** 
Dr. Barton was bom in Sublette, Illinois, where he spent his first twenty years, 
but he gained his knowledge of the mountain folk of Kentucky and Tennessee 
by immediate association, first as a student at Berea College in Kentucky and 
afterward as a missionary in the mountains, and later as a visitor and traveler 
through the most unfrequented parts. Another journey in the mountains was 
made especially in the interest of ** Pine Knot.** The story is full of the 
atmosphere of the quaint mountain life with its wealth of amusing peculiarities, 
and it also has a historical value, since it pictures conditions attendaint upon the 
antislavery movement and the days of the war. The interest of a treasure 
search runs through the tale, since the author has adroitly utilised a mountain 
legend of a lost mine. *' Pine Knot ** is a romance "racy of the soil ** in 
a true sense, a story fresh, strong, and absorbing in its interest throughout; Of 
the scenes of this novel the author has said : ** A region so beautiful in its 
scenery and romantic in its traditions as that which surrounds the Falls of the 
Cumberland River deserves to be represented in literature. The plan of a story 
embodying these traditions and dealing with the lives of the people in the heroic 
period of their history has been maturing in my mind for many years, during 
which time material for the work has been accumulating. The legend of the 
Swift Silver Mine is in itself so interesting as to require littie shaping at the 
hands of the story-teller ; and the scheme for its development just before the 
war, with the brilliant visions of enormous wealth and the result, are matters 
of record.** 

Some Press Opinions of "A Hero in Homespun." 
"Vigorous, spirited, truthful, absorbing.** — Nao York Critic, 
" A thoroughly interesting, red-blooded, virile story, and at the same time 
a historical document of the very greatest value.*'— The Bookman, 
*' Will be read with keen enjoyment.** — New York Times, 
** The story is one of intense \n\AteA,^^Boston Herald. 
"Abounds in life and incident. The men and women move and act 
spontaneously. The primitive customs and usages of the mountaineers have 
been carefully lActand.^—Pki/ade/pkid Ledger, 

D. APPLETON AND COMPANY, NEW YORK. 



^AN EPIC OF THE WEST.^ 
The Girl at the Halfway House. 

A Romance of the Plains. By E. HovcHy author of ** The 
Story of the Cowboy." izmo. Cloth, I1.50. 

The author of " The Girl at the Halfway House," Mr. E. 
Hough, gained general recognition by his remarkable book, ** The 
Story of the Cowboy," published by D. Appleton and Com- 
pany in this country, and also published in England. 

"The Girl at the Halfway House" has been called an 
American epic by critics who have read the manuscript. The 
author illustrates the strange life of the great westward movement 
which became so marked in this country after the civil war. A 
dramatic picture of a battlefield, which has been compared to 
scenes in **The Red Badge of Courage," opens the story. After 
this ** Day of War," in which the hero and heroine first meet, 
there comes **The Day of the BufEalo." The reader follows 
the course of the hero and his fnend, a picturesque old army 
veteran, to the frontier, then found on the Western plains. The 
author, than whom no one can speak with fuller knowledge, 
pictures the cowboy on his narive range, the wild life of the buf- 
falo hunters, the coming of the white-topped emigrant wagons, 
and the strange days of the early land booms. Into this new 
world comes the heroine, whose family finally settles near at hand, 
illustrating the curious phases of the formation of a prairie home. 
The third part of the story, called "The Day of the Cattle," 
sketches the wild days when the range cattle covered the plains 
and the cowboys owned the towns. The fourth part of the story 
is called "The Day of the Plow," and in this we find that the 
buffalo has passed from the adopted country of hero and heroine, 
and the era of towns and land booms has begun. 

Nothing has been written on the opening of the West to 
excel this romance in epic quality, and its historic interest, as well 
as its freshness, vividness, and absorbing interest, should appeal 
to every American reader. 

D. APPLETON AND COMPANY, NEW YORK. 



'*A FRESH AND CHARMING NOVEL.'* 

• 

The Last Lady of Mulberry. 

A Story of Italian New York. By Henry Wil- 
ton Thomas. Illustrated by Emil PoUak. lamo. 
Cloth, 1 1. 50. 

"By hr the most complete and satisfying description that 
has been given of life in the Italian quarter of New York. . . . 
Incidentally a very good novel, reasonable in its purpose and 
character drawing, intricate in plot, and dramatic in its action." 
— Pbiladelpbia Times. 

** A breezy book. It * goes ' from start to finish, and the ac- 
tion moves in a rich atmosphere, albeit that of the poorest of 
New York's alien colonies. . . . The best study of Italian life 
in New York, and of its special environment that has ever been 
drawn." — Neto Tork Herald, 

** Through a very cleverly contrived course of events the 
complex life of the colony shmes out in most resplendent pro- 
portions. . . • The story is an exceedingly clever piece of hu- 
morous writing." — Pittsburg Cbronick'Telegrapb. 

** The author has evidently made a close study of the Italian 
quarter and its people and customs, and has utilized his knowl- 
edge to best advantage." — Denver Republican, 

** Character drawing and humor of an excellent quality." — . 
Rochester Herald. 

** Richly humorous, * The Last Lady of Mulberry ' is one 
of the most enjoyable little romances we have recently read. It 
presents a picture of the Little Italy known in all our larger cities 
in a way that is more effective than any number of serious dis- 
sertations." — Providence News. 

D. APPLETON AND COMPANY, NEW YORK. 



By ELLEN THORNEYCROFT FOWLER. 



JUST PUBLISHED. 

The Farringdons. 

A Novel. I2IIIO. Cloth, $i.5a 

<* A most readable story of the fortunes of several interestiiig: people. . . . 
A plot that threads its way through the storr reaches a conclusion the unex- 
pectedness of which adds to the pleasure that the reader will find in this 
romance." — Providence News, 

" Miss Fowler makes her own audience, which, laiige as it is in En^^land, 
must be even larger in this country. There is a deeper note in this story 
than any she has yet sounded. . . . ' The Farringdons ' is, above all else, 
a proclamation to the world that the religion which Christ brought to hu- 
manity is a living power, undiminished in strength, the mainspring of the 
actions and aspirations of millions of Anglo-Saxons.'*— A'nv York MailoMd 
Express, 

•♦ A book of intense VDMexeaX.^^— Springfield Union. 

" Its whole atmosphere is that of a June morning. ... It is full of criq> 
and original dialogue, and beneath all the persiflage and gossip there is a 
strong undercurrent of wholesome and high- mind^ philosophy."— CAmta^ 
Tribune. 

'* Sparkling dialogue, careful character drawing, and admirable descrip- 
tions are all here, but above all we have real people, and teal people who 
are interesting. The book is another evidence of the high abihties of the 
writer."— CMf^wiwtf/* Times-Star. 

Concerning Isabel Camaby. 

A Novel. New edition, with Portrait and Biographical Sketch of the 
Author. i2mo. Cloth, $i.5a 

" No one who reads it will r^ret it or forget iX.^-^Chicago Tribune. 

*' For brilliant conversations, epigrammatic bits of philosophy, keenness 
of wit, and full insight into human nature, ^ Concerning Isabel Camaby* is 
a remarkable success.'* — Boston Transcript, 

*' An excellent novel, clever and witty enough to be very amusing, and 
serious enough to provide much food for thought.*'— Z^^x Daily Tele- 
graph, 

A Double Thread. 

A Novel. i2mo. Cloth, $1.50. 

** The excellence of her writing makes . . . her book delightful reading. 
She is genial and sympathetic without being futile, and witty without t)eing 
cynical." — Literature^ London, 

D. APPLETON AND COMPANY, NEW YORK. 



By MAARTEN MAARTENS, 



Eacfi, ITmo, doCb, $),50* Uniform Editiofi* 

Some Women I have Known. {Nearly ready:^ 

'* Maarten Maartens is one of the best novel writers of this or 
any day." — Chicago Times-Jier aid, 

''Maarten Maartens stands head and shoulders above the 
average novelist of the day in intellectual subtlety and imaginative 
power." — Boston Beacon* 

Her Memory. With Photogravure Portrait. 

" Maarten Maartens took us all by storm some time a?o with 
his fine story christened * God's Fool.' He established himself 
at once in our affections as a unique creature who had something 
to say and knew how to say it in the most fascinating way. He is 
a serious story writer, who sprang into prominence when he first 
put his pen to paper, and who has ever since kept his work up to 
the standard of excellence which he raised in the beginning." — 
New York Herald. 

The Greater Glory. A Story of High Life. 

" It would take several columns to give any adequate idea of 
the superb way in which the Dutch novelist has developed his 
theme and wrought out one of the most impressive stories of the 
period. ... It belongs to the small class of novels which one 
can not afford to neglect." — San Francisco Chronicle, 

God*s Fool. 

"Throughout there is an epigrammatic force which would 
make palatable a less interesting stor}' of human lives or one less 
deftly told." — London Saturday Review. 

Joost Avelinffh. 

" Aside from the masterly handling of the principal characters 
and general interest in the story, the series of pictures of Dutch 
life give the book a charm peculiarly its own." — New York 
Herald. 



APPLETON AND COMPANY, NEW YORK. 



FiUK GRASS ROMANCES 



The White Terror. 

A Romance. Translated from the Provengal by Mrs. 

Catharine A, Janvier. Uniform with ** The Reds of the 

Midi " and " The Terror." i6mo. Cloth, $1.50. 

** No one has done this kind of work with finer poetic gjasp or more 
convincing: truthfulness than F6Iix Gras. . . . This new yolume has the 
spontaneity, the vividness, the intensity of Interest of a great historical 
romaDOt."^PJUJadt/p^ia Times. 

The Terror. 

A Romance of the French Revolution. Uniform with 

**The Reds of the Midi." Translated by Mrs. Catharine 

A. Janvier. i6mo. Cloth, $1.50. 

** If F^lix Gras had never done any other work than this novd, it would 
at once give him a place in tl^ front rank of the writers of to-day. ... * The 
Terror ' is a stbry that deserves to he widely read, for, while it is of thrilling 
interest, holdine the reader's attention closely, there is about it a literary 
quality that makes it worthy of something more than a careless perusal." — 
Brooklyn Eagle, 

The Reds of the MidL 

An episode of the French Revolution. Translated from 

the Provencal by Mrs. Catharine A. Janvier. With an 

Introduction by Thomas A. Janvier. With Frontispiece. 

i6mo. Cloth, $1.50. 

" I have read with great and sustained interest * The Reds of the 
South,* which you were good enough to present to me. Though a work of 
fiction, it aims at painting the historical features, and such works if faith- 
fully executed throw more light than many so-called histories on the true 
roots and causes of the Revolution, which are so widely and so gravely mis- 
understood. As a novel it seems to me to be written with great sldlL"-' 
WiUiam B. Gladstone. 

D. APPLETON AND COMPANY, NEW YORK. 



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